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RealNetworks In Deal With SanDisk For Music Player; Ditches MSFT DRM

RealNetworks is teaming up with SanDisk to release a portable music player that more closely links with its Rhapsody online music service…this is the first time RNWK has done such an integrated deal. It has had tie-ups with Sonos and others over the years.
Under the deal, RNWK and SanDisk plan to release the Sansa Rhapsody, a portable music player based on SanDisk’s e200. The companies said they expected the gadget to be available in time for the holidays, but they would not say exactly how much it will cost.
The player will come pre-loaded with hundreds of songs from musicians such as the Dixie Chicks and Jessica Simpson, as part of a free trial of RealNetworks’ Rhapsody To Go portable subscription service.
The interesting part: RNWK is ditching MSFT’s DRM for portable subscription (as MSFT prepares for Zune) and using its own, but only for this particular combination of service. The device would still include Microsoft’s DRM, so people could still use it to run other music services besides Rhapsody.
WSJ: The deals are an effort by Apple competitors to improve technological coordination between online song sellers and digital-device makers. Samsung did a similar deal last month with MusicNet.
SanDisk has aggressively priced and distributed its family of music players; its products include the Sansa e200, which costs $139 and $249 for 2GB to 8GB players. The Sansa Rhapsody, the new joint device from RealNetworks and SanDisk, will cost the same.