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Rob Glaser Responds, Talks Up Real Networks 464

The 10 questions we sent Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser were selected from 37 that were moderated +5 about 24 hours after we posted the "call for questions" last week. As promised, Glaser answered them himself rather than through PR people, but since part of a CEO's job is to be his company's number one booster it's not surprising that his answers have a high PR component to them; yours would too if you were in his position.
1) Apple Support - by ack154
Since RealNetworks is all for "compatibility" and getting their stuff to play on the iPod, when do they plan to offer support for Macintosh users in the Rhapsody music store?


Glaser:
No plans as of now.

We're one of the most active Mac ISVs around, with our RealPlayer running on millions of Macs. We also offer our Superpass and RadioPass premium content products, and we offer more than 45 premium downloadable Mac games such as Shape Shifter, Bounce Out Blitz, and Text Twist.

Having said that, since the Mac is such a small part of the overall market, we make practical decisions about what functionality and services we offer on the Mac. So far, offering a music store or the Rhapsody subscription service on the Mac hasn't made the cut.

2) It still comes down to price, for a lot of us - by erick99
How much wiggle room is there in the pricing of the songs? Forty-nine cents a song has made me a customer of Real's for now ( I haven't tried any .99 cent services - don't want to pay that much). I know it's unlikely that music can be sold that inexpensively but we know it doesn't have to be .99 since WalMart is doing .88. So, I am wondering what RealNetworks' pricing strategy will be. While I understand you cannot differentiate on price alone, the rest isn't going to matter if the price is .99. I just won't buy at that price (yes, obviously others will, but I maintain that multiples more will at a sustained, lower price).


Glaser:
Here's a long answer to a short question.

The music industry supports 2 models of legitimately selling music services that allow consumers to listen to a jukebox in the sky (but not keep the music), and services that sell a permanent copy of the song to the consumer. We have 2 different services depending on which model consumers want.

The best deal out there today for price-sensitive customers who love music is our Rhapsody music service (www.Rhapsody.com). It is a jukebox in the sky type of service that allows consumers to listen to as much music as they want for a fixed price of $10/month. Then, when consumers find a song they want to own permanently, the song costs 79 cents, basically a membership discount for Rhapsody subscribers.

After just a year of us running the Rhapsody service (We acquired listen.com last August), we have hundreds of thousands of Rhapsody subscribers who get great value out of the service. In fact, our average Rhapsody subscriber listens to over 200 songs/month, including over 100 different songs. If the consumer had to purchase all those different songs they'd be paying over 10 times as much as what Rhapsody costs.

Our RealPlayer Music Store is a pure example of the second model. As part of our introduction of our Harmony technology (which allows digital songs to play on a virtually any popular MP3 player), we put every song in the store on sale at 49 cents. The promotion was a smashing success, resulting in us selling over 3 million songs in about 3 weeks.

The 49 cent for everything promotion is now over, but it was such a big success that we decided to continue to feature a Top 10 list of songs for 49 cents each, with the rest of the songs back at the usual price. This is also going well and our store sales are well ahead of where they were before we launched Harmony, which says to us that a lot of people like what Harmony offers and are going to continue to buy from us for reasons of more than just price.

Now let me answer your question about why songs cost 99 cents (or 88 cents or 79 cents, but not usually 49 cents). Selling songs legitimately consists of 3 components: the cost of the recording, which we usually pay to the record company (who then pays the artist); "publishing" cost which goes to the company that owns the rights to the musical composition (who pays the song writer); and other costs such as credit card fees, bandwidth, and technical support.

While wholesale prices vary depending on the label, today most labels charge approximately 65-70 cents per song. Publishing costs a fixed rate of about 9 cents per song. And the other costs average a few pennies per song. Thus, as we have made clear, selling every song in our store for 49 cents a song is not sustainable unless/until the labels change their pricing philosophy.

Based on the data we've seen, we think, long-term, the pricing that will result in the biggest overall market for music will involve some kind of tiered pricing new mainstream songs for 99 cents retail, and up-and-coming artists and back catalog artists at a lower price.

We are working with the labels to prove this to them. We think over time we will succeed, but it will take time. The more that customers support our efforts both directly (by voting with your wallets) and by communicating directly to the music industry, the better.

3) Media formats and proprietary control - by Performer Guy
Given the ongoing struggle for control of content distribution via proprietary formats, do you see any hope for more vendor neutral formats that don't tie customers to one particular 'technology'? It seems that constantly changing formats often have more to do with vendor lock-in than genuine technological differentiation. What is Real doing to improve this situation and are other vendors likely to cooperate?


Glaser:
We have done a number of things in the past few years to address interoperability and to move digital media toward much better and stronger interoperability while also supporting open source development on our platform through the Helix open source licensing program.

The single biggest thing we've done in the past year -- and maybe ever -- was to create Harmony, which (as you probably know) is a technology that translates between the main secure audio content formats Helix DRM, Windows Media DRM, and Apple's DRM.

Going back a few years, we took the core of our media delivery system, Helix, and made it open source. We then built a universal media delivery system -- Helix Universal Server -- on top of that platform. What's more, we fundamentally changed our software development methodology for Helix to a community-based approach. Indeed, we strongly encourage slashdot readers to join the Helix community at helixcommunity.org, as thousands of developers have already done.

We also have been active supporters and drivers of a number of open industry standards including RTSP for streaming and UPnP for media delivery across devices.

We think these initiatives are consistent with where the net is going much more focus on open systems and open formats, and much more focus on interoperability.

Unfortunately, competitors of ours such as Apple and Microsoft haven't followed suit. They have their own reasons for this. Apple apparently is focused on controlling an end-to-end secure music system, and Microsoft is focused on extending their proprietary Windows platform everywhere.

In light of this, we remain committed to enhancing interoperability and openness wherever it makes sense. However, what we haven't done is "unilaterally disarm" in the way that, for instance, Netscape did. All that would do is allow competitors with proprietary agendas to "embrace and extend" on top of our formats, while keeping their own proprietary, which ultimately wouldn't achieve anything.

4) Turnabout? - by Elwood P Dowd
What would you do if the next version of Quicktime could play .rm files, even ones with DRM? Suppose that they respect the DRM, and only play on authorized computers. Suppose Quicktime Pro were capable of creating .rm files with DRM.

Why shouldn't Apple do this?


Glaser:
We would be happy to cross-license our DRM and formats to Apple to enable exactly the kind of interoperability you propose.

As has been widely reported, we approached Apple about licensing their DRM several months ago. It was only after they rebuffed those initiatives that we came out with Harmony, which implemented software compatibility with their DRM as well as with Microsoft's.

5) Why is Real's software so intrusive? - by jerkychew
I've been in the computer industry since 1995 or so. In that time, I've seen lots of software come and go, and lots of less-than-ethical tricks to keep users hooked on one piece of software instead of another. In my 9 years or so, I've never seen any product as consistently sneaky as Real's media player. I remember back when RealAudio would make itself the default player for every media type it could without asking, which would annoy the tech-savvy user and scare those of us that are less technical.

While it seems that Real has backed its intrusiveness down a notch during the install, I still feel like Real is telling me what to do on my computer instead of the other way around. For example - Telling Real not to start when windows starts is no easy task. I have to go through 3 or four submenus in the preferences until I find the vaguely-named SmartCenter (or StartCenter? I don't have a machine handy to doublecheck the name). Even then, when I tell it not to start with Windows, I am greeted by a scary warning message. Even with SmartCenter disabled, Real's update service still lives in my registry, starting every time I boot windows.

So my question is, why try so hard to force your software on the user? Is it worth the market share to anger and confuse your core audience? Mention Real to the average user, and their first response is "I hate that software. I wish I knew how to delete it."

I've always been taught that it's best to make your customers happy, instead of holding them hostage. Does your business model say otherwise?




Glaser:
We have put a lot of effort into making our users happy and in giving users lots of choice in how they install and use our software. We have learned a lot over the years and I think if you look at RealPlayer 10 for Windows, Mac, or Linux carefully, you would find that it gives users much more choice and control over how our player works than any other major media player, including Microsoft's Windows Media Player or Apple's iTunes.

While I'm not 100% sure, from your description it sounds like you have a previous version of RealPlayer. In RealPlayer 10, the user can select Tools/Preferences/Automatic Services and configure all of the background activity, including features that remain active when RP is not running. With just a couple of mouseclicks, the user can disable all background services.

Compare how our software works to Microsoft's. Have you ever tried to "uninstall" Windows Media Player? All Windows does, in its own words, is "removes access to Windows Media Player from the Start Menu and Desktop," yet it doesn't actually get rid of the software. If you uninstall RealPlayer, we uninstall the whole enchilada. Same with mime types: we ask you what mime types you want our player to play, and then we only play those. On the other hand, when you upgrade your version of Windows, it takes the mime types it wants to without even asking. What's more, we've been told by reliable sources that Microsoft writes into its contracts with computer OEMs that the OEM MUST make Windows Media Player the default player for major mime types, otherwise the OEM doesn't get access to critical marketing funds that every PC manufacturer needs to stay in business.

Regarding your question of why we have put the features you want on specific menus, I will ask the guy who runs our player product group to take a close look at how we can make control of the specific features you have described even more obvious. My guess would be that the tradeoff is making the features available to technical users without confusing average users. Even so, we'll try to do even better next time. I promise that we will do our best to keep improving our software for both regular consumers and technical users.

6) Helix - by MikeMacK
What prompted the creation of the Helix community? Does Real see open source as a way to differentiate themselves from Apple and Microsoft, or where there other considerations?


Glaser:
Our reasons for creating the Helix community and to making the core of our system open source are the reasons best described in Eric Raymond's classic manifesto The Cathedral & the Bazaar (I imagine you all have memorized your favorite link to it, but in case not: http://www.redhat.com/support/wpapers/community/cathedral/whitepaper_cathedral.html).

Basically we realized about 3 years ago that digital media was becoming huge and ultimately it made much more sense for us to open up our system so it could be the foundation of great work by everyone rather than the work done just by our company and close allies.

What's more, we fundamentally changed our software development methodology to a community-based approach for Helix. Three years and tens of thousands of Helix community members later, we've made lots of progress. We know that this is a long-term process and that proprietary-based media delivery systems won't go away anytime soon. But this is no different than the Linux versus Windows battle.

7) Legality of Harmony - by halo1982
Are you concerned at all that Apple might sue Real under the DMCA for basically hacking the iPod to allow compatibility between Real and the iPod? If Apple does do this, what measures are you taking to make sure that the files people buy from Rhapsody will continue to play on their iPod after Apple locks Harmony out using a firmware update or something similar, and would you offer refunds to people with iPods who purchased music on Rhapsody?


Glaser:
The legality of Harmony under the DMCA is well established in law. It's important to understand that Harmony simply added a new way to secure the content we've licensed from music companies. We didn't mess with the locks on any of Apple's music. The DMCA contains a specific provision enabling companies to create just this kind of interoperability. Take a look at a recent case, Chamberlain v. Skylink, which describes how courts look at this in the real world.

We think it would be extremely anti-consumer for Apple to stop the music by intentionally breaking compatibility with Harmony. In the event that they do, we have a comprehensive plan in place, but it's not appropriate for me to go into details now. I will point out that Harmony will continue to work for any current iPod user who chooses to have RealPlayer manage that iPod (and who doesn't use iTunes, a future version of which might be the vehicle that Apple would use to break compatibility).

8) Nice, but.... - by dacarr
While I find it wonderful that Real has embraced Linux, your subsidiary, listen.com, seems antagonistic toward Linux, making it quite clear that they have no plans at this time to move their Rhapsody player to Linux. This tells me of a bit of a dichotomy in your company. Are there plans to resolve this?




Glaser:
I don't think it's about one division at Real versus another. It's about software versus services. We have made a significant commitment to delivering Linux versions of our software products on both the client and server side, and we're grateful for the support we've received from the linux community.

Delivering consumer services on Linux would be a new step for us; indeed, there are very few content services available today for Linux, reflecting the fact that the Linux desktop market is still quite nascent.

So, what we're doing now is looking at ways in which our Linux efforts can gather enough momentum that makes this a simpler decision. We're working closely with the Linux distributors to grow the market for Linux desktops by having a solid media player solution. And we're investigating which of our service offerings we can offer to Linux users in a cost-effective manner. Our goal is to start building a direct revenue base that we can then use to fund more ambitious efforts.

9) Lessons learned from astroturfing - by michaeldouma
There's a lot of spin going on at Real's new Freedom of Music Choice [freedomofmusicchoice.org] site. Clearly, Real was not expecting such a profound and immediate [slashdot.org] backlash. It must be frustrating [slashdot.org] that Apple gets to be both an underdog and a monopoly at the same time. But despite the feel good claims [freedomofmusicchoice.org] on your Freedom site (did you really write those?), your price drop, reverse engineering, and activism are hardly riling up the public.

What have you learned from this?


Glaser:
We're very happy with how our freedom of choice campaign for Harmony has worked. As you know, we sold over 3 million songs in 3 weeks, well beyond our expectations. Moreover, the tens of thousands of users who have bought songs from us and are continuing to enjoy the benefits of Harmony speak for themselves.

It's certainly true that a small group of Mac lovers gave us a hard time for criticizing Apple. This isn't that surprising because Mac users are very sensitive anytime anyone criticizes Apple, I guess because they emotionally identify with Apple as the "underdog" versus Microsoft. But for every Mac user who didn't like our criticizing Apple, there were literally hundreds of Windows users who enjoyed Harmony, including iPod users who sent us their comments (see http://www.realnetworks.com/company/press/releases/2004/real_3million.html).

The campaign was successful because consumers really do want choice. We hired an independent research firm to ask internet consumers about this. 96% of portable device owner said they thought they should be able to move music they bought to any device, which gives us great confidence that we're on the right side of history.

10) Strategy Question - by Anonymous Coward
Strategically speaking, Real doesn't look to be in a very promising position. Its technology, once unique (RealAudio), is now ubiquitous. Its marketing has been, by any account of which I am aware, a disaster. Now it seems like there is no area in which Real has any real strength or over its competitors - RealMedia is eclipsed by Windows Media, iTunes rules the day in downloading and Microsoft is entering that market as well.

Rob, what advantages does Real bring to the table? What can Real do that no other company can do? Why does Real exist? What the hell are you doing?


Glaser:
Well, your question has more than a bit of a "when did you stop beating your wife" feel to it, but I'll address the core question, which is what are we trying to do and how are we doing.

Since many SlashDot readers don't necessarily read all the details of our financial statements, let me talk a bit about our business. 2004 is on track to be the biggest revenue year in our history. In the first half of the year we had sales of $125.9 million. Our second quarter sales were 65.5 million, which is 32% over our revenue for the same quarter last year. We ended the quarter with over 1.4 million subscribers to our premium services, including over 550,000 subscribers to our music services, both of which were records and make us #1 in the business.

In terms of our products, Rhapsody is not only #1 in subscribers, it also wins pretty much every review as the music service that is best and easiest to use. RealPlayer 10 was also PC Magazine's editors' choice and also many other awards.

Of course we have competitors if we were a monopoly you would have other reasons to criticize us. :)

Having said that, we're as different from our competitors as Yahoo is from its competitors. We're focused on creating services that deliver great experiences to consumers regardless of what platform they use. This is very different from either Apple or Microsoft, both of whom center their services on their proprietary platforms (Mac/iPod in Apple's case, Windows in Microsoft's case).

I started RealNetworks more than ten years ago because I believe strongly that the Internet can and will transform how people experience media, giving them unprecedented control over what audio and video they experience, and when, where, and how they experience it. While there have been many twists and turns along the way, we're very pleased with the progress we're making both as a company and as an industry. And we feel great about the opportunities in front of us.

With that, I'd like to that you all for your questions and for taking the time to read and think.

Best,

Rob
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Rob Glaser Responds, Talks Up Real Networks

Comments Filter:
  • by ARRRLovin ( 807926 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:05PM (#10246810)
    ...with the software. His recall of the procedures on how to disable certain features is certainly impressiv------------*buffering*
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:05PM (#10246817) Journal
    I know that if you have time to add such 'comments' as "it's not surprising that his answers have a high PR component to them; " that you should have time to dupe check...

    Seriously, why add that? Nothing like that was added to the CA interview and the CA VP didn't anything important about anything, it was just 100% PR BS.

    I miss the old /., I really really do.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

      I wholly agree. I have to admit that after reading that comment in the description I told myself, "Ah, just more Real antics," and was about to skip the story entirely. Yet I decided to read the interview and I found his responses to be excellent. Even after having experienced so many problems with past Real software, I'm willing to give their new services a shot. I think he did a great job explaining what Real's vision is and it's very much helped their image in my mind. Perhaps some people might call that
  • by DetrimentalFiend ( 233753 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:06PM (#10246832)
    I don't know about anyone else, but I really respect Rob's answers. I think that we threw a lot of hard questions at him and he answered each one without avoiding the issues. Even the questions which would have just offended many CEO's were answered in a very professional manor. I might have to take a second look at Real, even though I swore several years ago to never install another copy of the Real player.
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:11PM (#10246896) Homepage Journal
      I agree... especially after reading this:
      Well, your question has more than a bit of a "when did you stop beating your wife" feel to it, but I'll address the core question, which is what are we trying to do and how are we doing.

      Most people would just avoid the question. Rob finds the point in the attack and addresses it. Now thats a person to respect (hey, you don't have to like him, or his company, but at least give him respect).
      • by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:32PM (#10247153)
        Rob, when did you stop beating your wife?
      • Actually, the first draft started out something like this:

        "You want a piece of me, punk? Let me personally kick..."

        Fortunately he revised.

        -Adam
      • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:21PM (#10247665) Journal
        I agree.

        Some of his comments were quite honest, such as this one -

        Of course we have competitors if we were a monopoly you would have other reasons to criticize us. :)

        That actually brought a smile to my face. Well, it's kinda sad really, I remember the day when Real was new and radical, and I was so amazed at seeing streaming media on the web.

        From those days, Real has come a long way - and not too smooth a road at that.

        Mac users are very sensitive anytime anyone criticizes Apple, I guess because they emotionally identify with Apple as the "underdog" versus Microsoft. But for every Mac user who didn't like our criticizing Apple, there were literally hundreds of Windows users who enjoyed Harmony, including iPod users who sent us their comments...


        His point on Apple users is quite a valid point - I do not mean to troll or to flame, but that is a general attitude that I've noticed in the so-called Mac fanatics. In business, volume matters, Real has no obligation to cater to the needs of everyone. When there are millions of Windows users who are willing to spend, why should they bother with the Mac users. And hey - don't flame me, I own an ibook too.

        And *MOST* importantly -


        96% of portable device owner said they thought they should be able to move music they bought to any device, which gives us great confidence that we're on the right side of history.


        If Real were to succeed - that is what they will have to leverage - the fact that people want choice. Having to invest in specific hardware to listen to music, or trying to tie down the customer - these have failed all the bloody time. Sure, it may bring you profit for a while, but when you fall you fall hard.

        Anyway, this was a good interview. Goodluck Rob. IT would take a lot of undo what Real has done in the past, but his attitude kinda makes me feel a little optimistic.

        Who knows - they were, afterall, one of the first people to port their media software to Linux when nobody even bothered. So much for Apple. Heh.
    • welcome to the dark side.

      actually, i too considered looking at real again.
      i'm so ashamed.

      must... resist... PR...
    • AOLer... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Raven ( 30575 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:17PM (#10246967) Homepage
      me 2!!1!

      I was rather impressed. He answered every question, though occasionally obliquely to avoid portions of the question that are harder to put into a good light...

      However, I will never install Real again, no matter what media I could see with it. The company has destroyed my trust in them in the past; and while they may no longer be deserving of unmitigated loathing, I cannot bring myself to trust them far enough to install them. Once bitten, twice shy.

      Raven
      • Re: AOLer... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gidds ( 56397 ) <slashdot@gi[ ].me.uk ['dds' in gap]> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @09:16PM (#10251885) Homepage
        To be fair, their Mac player behaves very well indeed -- it doesn't grab any file associations you don't want it to, it doesn't do anything on startup, it doesn't connect to Real unless you tell it to, it's easy to configure, install, and uninstall. It's a well-behaved Mac app, in other words.

        Obviously, this is rather different from some of the Windows versions, but not everything they do deserves to be smeared.

    • I agree. I found his answers to be rather well based on the current issues, and didn't really notice the PR speak mentioned in the article writeup.

      Reading Glaser's answers just improved Real's standing with me. If I weren't a die hard iTunes user, I would check out Rhapsody and Harmony.
    • by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:28PM (#10247104) Journal
      He'd be a fool to respond with the same snarky sarcasm present in some of the questions that were posed, but at the same time he showed a sense of humour in his responses. His "when did you stop beating your wife" reference was bang on and yet he still answered the question as directly as could be expected.

      Just asI would not expect a defense attorney to prove the prosecutor's case, I would not expect a CEO to criticise or make apparent weaknesses of his own company. However, I think he was at least forthright in his arguments in favour of their strategy, and was honest in assessing his competitive position in comparison to Apple and Windows. I found his analogy to Netscape relevant as to why they haven't opensourced the whole shop.

      I'm using Real 10 and do agree its alot less intrusive than previous version. Its not my prefered media format, but I do not hestiate to view/listen to Real Media streams online anymore. Hopefully the company has learned its lesson.

    • I agree, they were good answers, and seemed rather straight forward.

      I recently installed Real 10, and it has greatly improved, and is hardly instrusive (as much as any other program is), and it's a very nice media player, IMO.

      And honestly, after this, I might look at their music store...
    • Go for it. Real has really made some serious changes. I'm in bed with them again and loving it, and have been for a few months. This is after nearly 5 years of not even looking at their software. Now a days, their software is really really nice and polished (both in features and appearance), I use it as my main media player now, regardless of the platform I'm on.
      Regards,
      Steve
    • by slithytove ( 73811 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:35PM (#10247176) Homepage
      While I don't think he was as dodgy as he could have been, I think your praise goes a little far. For instance, he says Harmony is perfectly legal, but when asked whether it would be alright for Apple to create software that deals with Real's DRM without a license, he says that they'd be happy to discuss licensing with Apple.
      Also he makes Real out to be the advocate of interoperability and open platforms. Why not sell music in .ogg and .mp3 then? No problem playing mp3s in an ipod (or any other DAP for that matter).
      • Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lavar78 ( 573962 )
        For instance, he says Harmony is perfectly legal, but when asked whether it would be alright for Apple to create software that deals with Real's DRM without a license, he says that they'd be happy to discuss licensing with Apple.
        Yep, that's exactly where he lost me. He completely avoided the best question of the bunch. I can see why he did it, but it's still disappointing.
      • by MrAndrews ( 456547 ) * <mcm.1889@ca> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:25PM (#10247707) Homepage
        Why not sell music in .ogg and .mp3 then?

        There's a difference between what Real believes in regarding interoperability and what the music industry enforces.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Even the questions which would have just offended many CEO's were answered in a very professional manor.

      Hmm, I don't really care what type of building he was in when he answered the questions, it's the way he answered them that really matters...

      Get it? Manor... ?

      OK it's lame, you can mod me down now.
    • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:00PM (#10247441) Journal
      I think he dodged my question:
      4) Turnabout? - by Elwood P Dowd
      What would you do if the next version of Quicktime could play .rm files, even ones with DRM? Suppose that they respect the DRM, and only play on authorized computers. Suppose Quicktime Pro were capable of creating .rm files with DRM.

      Why shouldn't Apple do this?


      Glaser:
      We would be happy to cross-license our DRM and formats to Apple to enable exactly the kind of interoperability you propose.

      As has been widely reported, we approached Apple about licensing their DRM several months ago. It was only after they rebuffed those initiatives that we came out with Harmony, which implemented software compatibility with their DRM as well as with Microsoft's.
      Actually, I guess it's my fault for not framing the question more restrictively. But I didn't ask whether he'd like to cross-license with Apple. We all know the answer to that question. I'm not talking about whether he'd like to see that kind of interoperability. I'm asking what he'd do if Apple reverse-engineered Real's product like Real did to Apple. Because I want him to say, "Nothing. That's ok." If he can say that, he'd win a point or two with me. But he can't say it.
    • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @03:20PM (#10248974)
      I might have to take a second look at Real, even though I swore several years ago to never install another copy of the Real player.
      I just gave it another shot, and have to say RealPlayer 10 is pretty nice. I went into the preferences like Rob said in his response, and what do you know, nothing starts up any more. Just check the registry and that annoying realsched process is gone from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Curr entVersion\Run. I also like some of the CD ripping features. You can rip to MP3, AAC, Real, Real Lossless, Wave and Windows Media audio all at variable bitrates. Windows Media Player only lets you rip to WMA. I just made RealPlayer 10 my new default player and so far so good.
    • by ImpTech ( 549794 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @06:17PM (#10250613)
      Agreed, and I think Real *has* made some big steps recently. I tried RealPlayer 10 for Linux a couple of weeks ago, after avoiding Real like the plague since 1999 or so. And you know what? Its actually pretty good. Very simple and straightforward, no offensive behavior. Heck, if it supported all the media codecs, I'd use it over MPlayer any day.

      However, I tried the Windows version and wasn't quite as impressed. Interface wasn't bad, bit of a memory hog, and it left some small process running even when the player wasn't that I couldn't immediately figure out how to turn off. Still, nowhere near as bad as it was, and certainly competitive with WMP and iTunes.
  • by scotay ( 195240 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:14PM (#10246928)
    ...you must give Real your email address and allow them to install some executables into your startup folder.
  • Logic, learn it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RedHat Rocky ( 94208 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:18PM (#10246977)
    "Compare how our software works to Microsoft's. Have you ever tried to "uninstall" Windows Media Player?"

    Comparing something to a turd does not make it smell like roses.
    • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:34PM (#10247809) Homepage Journal
      Comparing something to a turd does not make it smell like roses.
      I agree. My initial reaction was "If you're only excuse is 'We're not as bad as they are' then I'll go find someone who is not as bad as you are". Answering it by comparing Real to something that people complain about too is no excuse for sucking. This is the very reason why I loathe to use Real and he did nothing to comfort my fears with his answer. Further, he didn't address the adware portions of Real that can only be disabled with some registry surgery and vigilance under windows. MS isn't serving me ads, so on that point Real is far more inrtusive.
  • Very clever indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:18PM (#10246983) Homepage
    Haha, take another look at his response to the question about the obscene invasiveness of Real Player.

    He avoids answering why Real has taken over your computer by default for the past 5 or so years, insisting that NOW everything is a-okay (arguable). And then to throw keen-eyed slashdotters off the trail he bashes microsoft a little so that you forget about it. Tell me this guy doesn't know how to cater to the slashdot audience!

    The thing is, the comparison to WMP isn't really appropriate since the question's complaint wasn't at all about the uninstallation procedure, it was about the invasiveness of running the program. The fact that you can't easily uninstall WMP is an entirely different evil. When was the last time you've heard somebody complain about the Window's Media Player Messaging Center popping up with ads and shit? Or the last time WMP decided that it should be the program that you view JPEGs in?
    • by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:33PM (#10247159) Journal
      Yeah, real clever. Showing that they have learned from past mistakes and have tried to correct them in their latest version.

      Heaven forbid they actually TAKE CORRECTIVE ACTION! No. Slashdot hypocrites want nothing less than self immolation.

      As far as Window's Media Player Messaging Center popping up with ads an shit, of course not! That is what Windows Messager is for!

      Give credit where credit is due. Real 10 was invasive and evil. Real 10 is a different animal and allows simple control over all of that.
    • When was the last time you've heard somebody complain about the Window's Media Player Messaging Center popping up with ads and shit? Or the last time WMP decided that it should be the program that you view JPEGs in?

      When was the last time that RealPlayer did either of these?

      I don't know what the Win32 RealPlayer is like now, since I only use the Linux version, but if Real have genuinely improved their products it is unfair to judge them based on what their software did 5 years ago.

      K

    • by irix ( 22687 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:51PM (#10247330) Journal

      He avoids answering why Real has taken over your computer by default for the past 5 or so years, insisting that NOW everything is a-okay (arguable).

      The question that he was responding to was too vague, but I agree that he dodged the question that should have been asked: "why was Real Player so annoyingly intrusive?" Stealing MIME types, junk all over your registry, startup folder and system tray, spyware, annoying popups, brutal user interface covering in marketing crap trying to get you to buy premium services. All you wanted to do was watch/listen to some media, and putting up with all the crap that Real installed and did wasn't worth it.

      It certainly is better today - I gave it a try after the last Real article on /. The Linux install is dead simple, with no attempt to pitch premium services or install junk on your system. The windows install process isn't as good - you still have to endure the pitch for the premium player when you download, and you have to uncheck a lot of boxes to prevent the player from taking over your system. Still, it is better than it used to be - maybe even worth installing if you know what you are doing.

      So I guess the real question that should have been asked is after having abused our trust with the old Real Player, how are we ever supposed to trust Real again?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:20PM (#10247015)
    Overall, I thought he did an OK job answering questions.

    But in the very last question he just seemed wrong:

    Having said that, we're as different from our competitors as Yahoo is from its competitors. We're focused on creating services that deliver great experiences to consumers regardless of what platform they use. This is very different from either Apple or Microsoft, both of whom center their services on their proprietary platforms (Mac/iPod in Apple's case, Windows in Microsoft's case).

    It seems to me that Apple is actually very focused on the Windows platform, at least in terms of iTunes and ITMS and the iPod. Now if he'd mentioned PLAYER platforms, I think his point would have hit home a lot more.

    If terms of store support, ITMS is more cross platform than any other service (well, apart from the dark horse AllOfMP3.com or Emusic - perhaps I should say "major onlne music service").

    Come to think of it, I wish someone had asked him how they plan to compete against AllOfMP3.com.
  • Real Player 10... (Score:5, Informative)

    by LnxAddct ( 679316 ) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:21PM (#10247025)
    Real Player 10 is really nice on Linux. I am pretty impressed by it. I mean, it has completely changed my view on Real. It just does what its supposed to and nothing else (and it supports ogg and theora, a big plus in my book). Has anyone had any issues with it? I seriously cannot find any major flaw with it.
    Regards,
    Steve
    • by IANAAC ( 692242 )
      I've not had issues with it either. I really like it as well.

      My guess is that the people that continue to complain about the player have not, in fact, spent much - if any - time with the newest version. A lot has changed.

    • by Zorilla ( 791636 )
      Informative indeed. For some strange reason, I thought Real stopped making the Linux version of their player. Probably had something to do with SuSE 9.1 coming with an RPM of an old version (7 I think) with a crusty Motif-style GUI. More power to it if it actually plays the formats that the Xine backend can't.
    • by div_2n ( 525075 )
      I use it on Fedora 2 and it works quite nicely. I have seen one site that had Real content that it refused to play. I don't know why. Could be more the fault of the site than anything.
    • by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:22PM (#10247678) Homepage
      RealPlayer 10 on Windows too, has transformed into something I no longer need to banish from my system.

      Real is trying their hardest to reinvent themselves, and unlike some other posters here who'll obviously never give them a second chance, I applaud them for it. We're all better off with a well-behaved company than one that relies on underhanded tricks, and we should encourage the former to keep it up, and encourage the latter to become to former.
  • by augustz ( 18082 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:22PM (#10247030) Homepage
    The basic point is customer credability is earned, not claimed.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but Real as a company seem to have some of the worst standards out there in terms of how they treat their customers.

    They purposly took the most agressive approach to making money, and the least user friendly approach (ie, message center important alerts which always turned out to be about superpass combos, they used to spam me non-stop without letup, taking over associations left and right on express installs).

    Behind these decisions to screw over users were people who said, make it impossible to disable / uninstall this feature.

    My question was (and was rated +5 but not picked),
    "Until the people change, why should we think you've changed? Have you fired people? Admitted past mistakes? Will future features be honest features, or 'features' designed to make us all miserable?"

    Interesting stuff to think of the people making these types of decisions...

    As a note, if you ever want to know which companies take over computers in non userfriendly ways go to a senior center and look at the computers. Claria / Realplayer / Spyware paradise.
    • by Ieshan ( 409693 )
      Not to beat a dead horse, but Real as a company seem to have some of the worst standards out there in terms of how they treat their customers.

      Especially if, by customers, you mean "People who have been duped into installing Real's software package and can't seem to get rid of it."

      I'm not so naive as to expect Realplayer to ask if it wants to uninstall every time it runs, but essentially, Real Networks lives off of cheap-shots, parlor tricks, and ignorance. I installed Real on a friend's computer *LAST NI
      • I honestly want to know what version of RealPlayer you're installing. Since RealOne (I guess realplayer 9) I haven't ever seen a window like what you described. The only thing I can think of is the one where you select a bunch of file/MIME types you want RP10 to associate with, and that's only if you click on "customize" instead of using the big categories that they let you use. I'm browsing through the RP10 Prefs window right now and I can't find anything like you describe, not even in that stupid Messa
    • Thanks for the post. We completely agree with you that credibility is earned, not claimed.

      To the heart of your question, What has changed? Why would the company change? What motiviation does the company have to change?

      First and foremost, our business model has changed. Today over 80% of our revenue comes from Consumer SERVICES. Services that our customers rave about to their family/friends. For example, RealRhapsody, our all you can eat music subscription service, is the number 1 rated music serice.
  • Glaser: We would be happy to cross-license our DRM and formats to Apple to enable exactly the kind of interoperability you propose.
    Translation: Apple should pay us for the right to do the same thing we're done to them without paying (and are threatening to sell to others the means to do). Hello Hipocracy!
    • That's not what he said at all. He clearly stated that if QuickTime did the same thing as real did, he would have no problem with it. He then stated he would like to cross-license their DRM with apple. In other words, neither of them pay both of them get the other's DRM.

      Read the fucking answer before you start crying hypocrite.
    • by barawn ( 25691 )
      Translation: Apple should pay us for the right to do the same thing we're done to them without paying (and are threatening to sell to others the means to do). Hello Hipocracy!

      First - it's "hypocrisy", not hipocracy. Google is your friend when it comes to spelling questions...

      Second - Real did pay money. To the workers who came up with the technology and did the reverse engineering. It was not free - they just didn't pay Apple. This is completely legal - welcome to the world of interoperability. If Apple
  • He Beats his wife? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:24PM (#10247052)
    >Well, your question has more than a bit of a "when did you stop beating your wife"

    He beats his wife? For shame!

    Seriously though if he wants to be sucessful Real has got to change their neferious ways of intrusive installs... As probably everone on /. knows, when your not so computer savy brother/sister/friend etc... asks you how to install real as they wanna hear some scratchy sound on the net and your response is NEVER EVER EVER install Real Player or anything with "Real" in its name... not EVER EVER. Never. You will just cause your self headaches... If you must install something, find an alternative. The Real suite WAS the closest thing legit commercial software got to being a virus or whathaveyou...

    Noticed I said "WAS", and also notice that Glaser mentions some new verion of REAL... well I wouldn't know as I would NEVER (ever) download the stuff, such a bad impression was made upon me it will take a LONG time to regain credibility as a legit company.

    anyway thats my rant.
  • We think it would be extremely anti-consumer for Apple to stop the music by intentionally breaking compatibility with Harmony. In the event that they do, we have a comprehensive plan in place, but it's not appropriate for me to go into details now.

    Who wants to bet that the comprehensive plan involves selling songs for 25 cents a pop until they go out of business...

  • Not bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ewanrg ( 446949 ) <ewan@grantham.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:26PM (#10247088) Homepage
    While I would have rather seen a pre-announcement of when Rhapsody would be available to Linux users, I thought that overall he did a fair job of explaining his position. I think in a lot of ways he and his company resemble Linspire and it's CEO.

    The one fault they also seem to share is that they get geek speak, but I'm not sure they truly understand. IOW, they understand the promise of the really open market, but don't live and breathe it in their business. So they're better than many of the alternatives (like our dear MS Borg), but still aren't taking advantage of the full market they could get if they made that extra step and truly opened up...

    FWIW, I've spent money with both companies in the past, and will do so again if Rhapsody ever does offer a Linux version.

    Obligatory plug - please check out my online novel [blogspot.com]

  • Gee thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <kevin@gadd.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:29PM (#10247122) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only person who, when reading "yours would too if you were in his position", thought, 'Gee, thanks roblimo, I guess I am a sellout!'?

    I don't see why being a CEO automatically means you must be dishonest with your customers. Is this some rule of economics that I haven't learned in school yet?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    they edited it and removed all the <buffering> messages.
  • by twifosp ( 532320 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:33PM (#10247163)
    Seriously, why do all of you people get so bent out of shape? I'm honestly asking here.

    If you don't like a type of food, do you go on a personal crusade to ensure no one ever eats it ever again? Probably not.

    If you don't like Real's business strategy, DON'T USE IT. I personally don't like the real player, never have, probably never will. I do, however, use Rhapsody and I think it's a fantastic service for the price. But that's off topic.

    The real question is why Real (or any other company for that matter) perceived as a malicious company? They are being cast as villians for having stupid business practices? Last I checked they weren't out forcing you to install the product. If it sucks, it sucks, and that's Real's problem in terms of business strategy. It's not an insult to your person for god's sake.

    Yea yea, it's invasive. Yea yea, it's annoying. I get it, and I happen to agree. So I don't use or buy the products that are annoying. I installed, didn't like it and uninstalled. Live and learn.

    But but but, how come I can't use it on x platform? Well, if you really want to use it that badly, I suggest you go to real and pitch a business case to them for why they should spend the extra time and money developing for your platform. Just because you use it[the platform], doesn't mean the majority of the target demographic uses it. Son of a bitch, Real is out to make money? LYNCH THEM!

    If the product isn't what you want, it means the marketing and development failed. It doesn't mean they are evil. Grow up.

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:30PM (#10247767) Journal
      If you don't like a type of food, do you go on a personal crusade to ensure no one ever eats it ever again? Probably not.
      If you don't like Real's business strategy, DON'T USE IT.


      Overall, I agree with your point. However (always a however, or I wouldn't have responded)...

      Many Slashdotters get to deal with not only the consequences of their own software, but with the choices of non-geek family and friends.

      I have no problem saying, "I will never make the mistake of installing another Real product on my computer". I know better. I realize how invasively their products behave, the poor quality of their media formats (until they went to basically pure MPEG-4 for everything), the legendarily-pathetic streaming problems (what, they never heard of "let me buffer the whole damned thing while I get a snack, before starting to play"?).

      OTOH, every time I visit a friend or relative, they want me to make Real go away. I ask why they reinstalled it, and the answer inevitably either involves "the kids did it" or "the website told me I had to". So, not having installed it myself, I still have to deal with it. That irks me, just a tad.

      Incidentally, sometimes even we geeks can make mistakes. I (presume I) accidentally left a checkbox ticked for RealOne as part of some other program, and it took literally hours to completely get rid of it (A tip, for "removing" literally any self-protective Windows program - Burn a Knoppix CD with an NTFS-write enabled kernel, boot it, mount the Windows partition in question, and rename the directory of the offending program).

      I will swallow my pride and admit I screwed up in allowing it to install. But that sort of irritation has lead to the anti-Real zealotry you see in Slashdotters today... A mere oversight during installing a seemingly unrelated product, and I lost a few hours of my all-too-rare free time.
    • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @03:59PM (#10249370) Homepage Journal
      The real question is why Real ... perceived as a malicious company?

      It wasn't long ago that you were promised a "free real player"... but to get it, you had to search out the tiny, virtually hidden little link on not one but several pages in a sequence to finally get to the "free" version that would not expire in several days and demand you pay.

      Of course, the non-free (as in beer) version that expired quickly wasn't conspiciously labeled as such in the several places it was displayed... so most people, even knowledgable technical people, were usually tricked into downloading the trial version of the expensive player, having a reasonable believe that they were in fact installing the free one they had been promised.

      Many sites that offered videos in Real's format resorted to giving detailed explaination of exactly where to find the free one and how to get past all the attempts to trick you into downloading the expiring trial. What did Real Networks do? They regularly changed the pages, in what appears to any rational observer a deliberate attempt to intentionally hide the truely free version and dupe anyone looking for it into downloading the one that isn't free.

      Upon installing either the free or trial versions of Real's player, it wasn't long ago that they would randomly throw popup advertising on the screen. Perhaps there was a way to disable this, but it wasn't obvious.

      During the installation process, Real would demand the user to give their email address. The purpose was only to sell these addresses to marketers. The typical install, which is what most users select, would subscribe you to lots of junk. The custom/expert/advanced install would have a list of marketing partners.

      Slashdot even had coverage of Real's highly deceptive tactic of using a very long list of opt-in marketing, where the ones that initially appeared in the list were all unselected.... giving the user an appearance that the default was to opt-out. But MANY more appeared below the visible portion and were only seen if the user scrolled down. All those others, not shown without scrolling, where checked by default. That's a pretty sneaky trick.

      But it doesn't stop there. It's keep running in the background, even if asked not to. They had a history of sending private info back to their server, even if told not to. They have a history of grabbing file associations when they reasonably shouldn't. The list goes on and on. If there's a sneaky, deceptive tactic to be used in free downloads, Real has done it.

      Maybe that's changed now. But they have left a legacy of mistrust that is very well deserved.

  • ...when its geek mods become apologists for the subjects they interview.

    As promised, Glaser answered them himself rather than through PR people, but since part of a CEO's job is to be his company's number one booster it's not surprising that his answers have a high PR component to them; yours would too if you were in his position.

    If someone responds to an interview request from Slashdot, they should be required to give us geeks the stright skinny. They may not, of course, but they should be held to

  • He answered my question, and that's kinda cool. But, his answer makes me want to RE Rhapsody to find out what the stream is. I've heard it's WMA, and I believe that there is a player for that now; as such, if I can RE it, I'd be happy to pay for a Rhapsody sub again.
  • Summary: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:42PM (#10247238) Journal
    1 Apple and Linux don't have the user base to make them worth our while.

    2 Online music won't drop below $.79/song until we can beat the RIAA into lower fees.

    3 We use a proprietary format because if we didn't, we'd get crushed by MS and Apple. If Apple, however, figured out how to play .rm, we'd sue their asses off. They won't license to us, so we won't license to them. Nyah.

    4 We write annoying and intrusive software because Microsoft does it too (and our annoyances aren't as bad as their's are).

    6 Helix gives us street cred in the OS community, that's why we do it.

    7 We had our lawyers look very closely to make sure Apple couldn't sue us over the iPod. We don't expect any trouble. And don't worry, you'll always be able to play Harmony on your iPod, as long as you never use iTunes again.

    8 See the first summary item for Linux support.

    9. Based on "independent" consultants on our payroll, people want alternatives to iTunes. That must mean they want us. We lost a million dollars in 3 weeks selling music at below-cost, so it must be true.

    10. I have not stopped beating my wife, but more to the popint, our company is raking in lots of dough. We're not making any profit, or I would have given you profit numbers instead of revenue numbers.

    • Corrections (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris AT beau DOT org> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:25PM (#10247711)
      > If Apple, however, figured out how to play .rm, we'd sue their asses
      > off. They won't license to us, so we won't license to them. Nyah.

      This one is wrong. It should be:

      We would be happy to accept Apple's check to license our useless (to Apple) tech. But we all know that won't happen because Apple is all about keeping people as locked into Quicktime's own codecs as possible.

      > Based on "independent" consultants on our payroll, people want
      > alternatives to iTunes.

      This one is also wrong. The quote was:

      "96% of portable device owner said they thought they should be able to move music they bought to any device,"

      Suprised it was only 96%. That question is about as controversial as "Do you think puppies are cute." Of course you should be able to play purchased music on ANY player. Which is why you should not part with good money for crappy low-bitrate DRM encumbered music.
    • Re:Summary: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kelnos ( 564113 )
      I'm sure your cynicism is mostly deserved here (in part, I share it), but at least don't blatantly lie:

      3 We use a proprietary format because if we didn't, we'd get crushed by MS and Apple. If Apple, however, figured out how to play .rm, we'd sue their asses off. They won't license to us, so we won't license to them. Nyah.

      In fact, Glaser said that Real would be happy to cross-license their formats with Apple. Of course, a cross-licensing scheme at this point would be a waste, because Real would be

  • rhapsody (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hollins ( 83264 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:42PM (#10247239) Homepage
    I've been a very happy rhapsody subscriber for a couple of years. They've done everything right. Good pricing, elegant interface, lots of additional artist information available, tight and fast performance, no ads, no spyware, lightweight, low overhead, etc. When I'm on a PC, it's playing music and never disrupts what else is going on, even with processor-intensive applications running. It just works perfectly and unobtrusively. Plus, their library is extensive and always expanding.

    Naturally, when Real bought Rhapsody I got scared. Rhapsody uses WMP and Real is reportedly looking to switch over to RM. This could be good or bad. They can use a lightweight realplayer with rhapsody to send me tunes and easily add Linux and MaxOS support in the process, or they can use the current memory-consuming version of RP10 that doesn't run under Linux, and I'll cancel my subscription. The version of RP10 for Linux is much lighter than the Windows version, but ironically, they don't offer it for Windows.

    I'm not real optimistic.
  • Not a good answer. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by /dev/trash ( 182850 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:45PM (#10247271) Homepage Journal
    To the guy who asked why there was such a problem diabling all the crap Real installs. "Install the latest version!" uh. No. Why would I trust Real to play nice?
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:46PM (#10247281)
    Tie these two together:

    Our RealPlayer Music Store is a pure example of the second model. As part of our introduction of our Harmony technology (which allows digital songs to play on a virtually any popular MP3 player), we put every song in the store on sale at 49 cents. The promotion was a smashing success, resulting in us selling over 3 million songs in about 3 weeks.

    and

    While wholesale prices vary depending on the label, today most labels charge approximately 65-70 cents per song. Publishing costs a fixed rate of about 9 cents per song. And the other costs average a few pennies per song. Thus, as we have made clear, selling every song in our store for 49 cents a song is not sustainable unless/until the labels change their pricing philosophy.

    That 3 million song block sold cost them between $810,000 and $960,000.

    I have to wonder if they really get enough other new sales to offset losses like that. It does seem that they are making money, but some of that money is from premium services.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @12:49PM (#10247316)
    We're one of the most active Mac ISVs around, with our RealPlayer running on millions of Macs.

    Get real, Glaser. That just means that Real's users are active. The company, on the other hand, has provided years of consistent support for the Mac: consistently late, consistently buggy, and consistently slow. That's pretty much par for Windows ISVs who happen to port to the Mac. It puts them ahead of the large number of Windows ISVs who don't port to the Mac, but utterly unexceptional otherwise. I will give them credit for not littering the Mac RealPlayer with adware like the Windows version.

    Now, real Mac ISVs like Adobe, Wolfram, Stone Design, they're actually active and timely with updates. And there's a host of independent shareware and freeware developers who are far, far more receptive and responsive still!
  • Felacious Argument (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SurfTheWorld ( 162247 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:04PM (#10247475) Homepage Journal

    Compare how our software works to Microsoft's. Have you ever tried to "uninstall" Windows Media Player? All Windows does, in its own words, is "removes access to Windows Media Player from the Start Menu and Desktop," yet it doesn't actually get rid of the software.


    Using that same logic, you could say "Since the driver in front of me ran the red light, I'm going to run the red light as well." Would you jump off a bridge because another person did?

    Real may have gotten better at uninstalling in version 10. But why oh why are we at version 10 before the thing uninstalls cleanly? Why are we at version 10 before the adware in the "free" version (what a misnomer) is less offensive? Why are we at version 10 before the mime-type land-rush has stopped? That should have never gone into the product in version 1.0.

    Pisses me off when software won't completely uninstall itself. There's nothing a good rm -rf shouldn't undo.

    The one thing that makes me happy about Real is watching it succumb to the same forces that destroyed Netscape. Look at the parallels - a small company formed around a pretty innovative product. It awakens the sleeping Giant (in Netscape's case that was MS; in this case it's Apple and MS). Freaks out and spawns an "open source initiative" (Mozilla vs HelixCommunity's hxplay). Get ready to go the way of the DoDo bird, Real.

    And take your damn spyware with you.

    -c
  • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @01:10PM (#10247543)
    So Real wants Apple to open up licensing of iTunes DRM so they can undercut Apple on a non-Apple platform?

    In other words, "We want you to let us use your DRM for our music store which won't run on your OS so we can compete fairly with your music store." Does that not make sense to anyone else?

  • by robla ( 4860 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @02:32PM (#10248466) Homepage Journal
    Hi folks,

    I'm Rob Lanphier, and I'm the Development Support Manager for RealNetworks. Among other things, I'm responsible for guiding our Helix Community initiative [helixcommunity.org].

    I'm glad to see some of the good comments here. People are starting to see that things have have changed.

    There's been some comments on ethics, and how a company "can never be trusted again" after making missteps. It's very frustrating for me personally because it belies a certain naivete about how companies and the world works, as well as the fact that the meme really limits the potential of doing some really great things. It also bugs me because, well, I like to think of myself as a very ethical person.

    As Jamie Zawinski pointed out [jwz.org], you get a lot of people together, and stupidity inevitably ensues. It's practically unavoidable. However, there's also an upside to getting a lot of people together. Some things just take a lot of people to do.

    We're building out an infrastructure for delivering music and other media to a lot of folks over the Internet, and building the partnerships with media companies and technology companies to pull it off. In the process of doing that, we're managing to build a lot of great technology that we're making available as open source, much of it even GPL [helixcommunity.org]

    If we're successful in really getting the industry to rally around this infrastructure, not only will the world have a kickass open source media infrastructure, but we'll have shown other previously skeptical that it's not an utterly insane thing to do. However, if it doesn't work out, it'll be yet another counterexample of why building open source isn't compatible with the business world.

    It's been really cool to see how the Helix Player/RealPlayer for Linux [helixcommunity.org] effort has gone. Our Freshmeat ranking [freshmeat.net] continues to climb at a great pace, and we're seeing a lot of downloads. If anyone is worried about what's in that player, look at the source code. Hopefully, we'll be able to further roll that model of building software out to other parts of our business.

    At the end of the day, companies are just people. You get a big enough group together, and you'll find there's good people, and there's bad people. I suppose you can lump us all together, and say that the group as a whole is bad. Or you can take the more pragmatic approach. Rally behind the good people in the group, and help them guide the rest down the right path.

    Rob
  • Still losing... (Score:3, Informative)

    by gricholson75 ( 563000 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @03:18PM (#10248950) Homepage
    Our second quarter sales were 65.5 million, which is 32% over our revenue for the same quarter last year

    What he fails to mention is that they still lost 4.6 million that quarter.
  • Trusting Real (Score:4, Insightful)

    by codemachine ( 245871 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:32PM (#10250289)
    Every time a story about Real comes up, it is apparent from the comments that their past history is still getting in the way of them achieving their goals. While they are the only major media company supporting Linux, and they are doing a lot of good OSS and interoperability work, there are some that will always cringe when they hear the name "Real".

    I think there are only two ways for them to address this:

    1. A buyout and/or namechange. This would be something substantial to indicate the Old Real is gone for good. Something substantial like this might allow them a fresh start, although if bought out by the wrong company, they might lose a lot of the good aspects of the current company. A buyout by an OSS friendly company would be preferrable if this happened.

    2. Real addresses the issue head-on, and very publicly. Draft policies that ban the tactics that people object to, and somehow assure everyone that they will be followed no matter what. Make sure RealPlayer 10.1/11 does not ask for registration, does not auto-start by default, and doesn't run any services. Maybe asking on first run or during the install whether services such as "StartCentre" and "Updater" should be run would be appropriate. That way, a default install of RealPlayer does nothing more than play Real files when the user comes across them. Nobody could complain about such simplicity, especially if there were guaranteed assurances from Real that the player would not have intrusive software installed with it in the future. I know the current player is very good and unintrusive, but unfortunately for Real, RealPlayer will be judged by a different standard than other products due to its past. Go further than what should normally be "far enough" in making the player simple.

    Since the player is losing ground to Quicktime and MS Media Player, promoting such a free player should be a high priority. The player should be very prominant (if not the most prominent item) on the front page. Real can worry about advertising their for-pay products on pages to do with their music services, and other such popular areas of Real.com.

    But getting the free player back on many machines, as well as getting Real to be a trusted brand again, should be priority #1 at Real. Real is doing some great things, and have huge opportunities to make gains in many areas of online media, if they can only get rid of that dirty feeling that techies get when they hear "Real".
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @06:25PM (#10250666) Journal
    I think Glaser should have been given a "try again" on questions 1) and 4).

    They weren't answers at all. In fact, question 4) was actually the most repeated question in the forums moderated or not. It was also the most important question on many other websites [read as many other mac web sites] - as I am not sure this interview was making much headline everywhere else.

    As for the answer to question 9) - shame on slashdot for even allowing him to lie like a politician and say that there was ANYthing positive out of the freedomofchoice music site REAL put up and shame on him for saying it was just Mac users, a lot of linux was mixed in there as well. If it was so positive why did they remove the comments?

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

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