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Real, Microsoft, Napster versus Steve Jobs

Erick Schonfield has an update. Check it out!

Everyone has always wanted to be Steve Jobs – for his sense of style, his dress sense, his ability to mesmerize the audiences with shiny toys and of course lately his runaway success, iPod and subsequently the iTunes store. Everyone – from phone companies to Microsoft to Real Networks – are so riled up, that they will go to any extent to humble Steve.

Real Networks, for instance is going to announce a new and yet another makeover of its Rhapsody service tomorrow. The news will come tomorrow at a flashy gig in Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. I have some skinny, in case tomorrow never comes. Real Rhapsody To Go is likely to be announced, some sources say. (Reuters has some details!) Rent music every month – much like Napster. Never mind the total subscription market for 2005 is estimated to be a mere $200 million. Apple’s music sales for 2005 expected to be around $350 million. There is a good chance that new Rhapsody2Go service could be played on iPod as well – well till Apple releases a patch and kills it. You all know about that Harmony stuff that prompted Steve Jobs to label Rob Glaser a “hacker.”

Furthermore, anyone who downloads the Rhapsody software to their PC will be able to listen to 25 tracks in a month. Not the 30-second preview you get in iTunes store. For instance you can listen to Nitin Sawhney’s forthcoming album Philtre, twice, before deciding to buy it. No need to put a credit card number, an email address will do the job. (Interesting enough feature, which frankly Apple should adapt for its store – i.e. let us listen to the tracks before we buy them. Many of the down tempo stuff I buy doesn’t even register for first minute or so!) Like the album enough, then send the URL to your buddies who can listen to the album, if they have Rhapsody software. Here is the irony of it all – the Real’s new improved Rhapsody is going to support Microsoft’s Play4Sure DRM. Ten years ago, when streaming music was first getting started, well, Real and Rob Glaser could not stand Bill Gates.

Bottom line – the old tale about two cats fighting over apiece of bread, and monkey walking away with the goodies. All this drama around subscriptions, devices, phones versus simple, easy iPod. Guess where consumer is headed.

7 Responses to “Real, Microsoft, Napster versus Steve Jobs”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Would you mind telling me how you went about piping the music through your house. This is exactly what I want to do! Details on the cheap av interfaces too please:-)

    You can post here for all to see but i’d appreciate an email as well, because i will most likely have a few questions if you’ll be so kind as to help.



  2. Jeff A. Taylor

    Om, there is nothing simple about iPod and iTunes for someone like me you has no desire to OWN 100,000 songs. I already did that with vinyl and CDs. Unlimited, customizable access to a mega-jukebox is pretty cool for someone who primarily listens to music in his home office and, better still, pipes Rhapsody thru the house via wifi and cheap AV interfaces. Some some white box with storage on it is totally superfulous to that endeavor. And you put your finger on iTunes and its 30 seconds previews — just doesn’t cut it when you are searching out new music. Me, I think Real should just forget about that whole portable market, but it can’t as it is also faces competition from satellite radio (yep, nuther subscription) and is forced to fight a two-front war. My luck and this great solution to my music needs will eventually succomb to these forces. For now I gotta go check and see if I want to add anything to my Cinco de Mayo Rhapsody playlist from last year. It’s free and I don’t own any tejano music.