Real slashes song prices in online music battle

In a move likely to step up the digital music dispute between RealNetworks and Apple Computer, Real slashed prices at its online music store on Tuesday, offering songs and albums for a limited time at nearly half of what Apple charges at its iTunes store.

The digital media software maker is charging US$0.49 per song and $4.99 for most albums as part of a short-term sale, compared to the $0.99 a song and $9.99 per album normally charged by iTunes and other music sites.

Real said it cut prices as part of its new "Freedom of Choice" campaign, which will be marked by online, print and radio ads promoting its RealPlayer 10.5 software. The new software features a technology, called Harmony, that allows consumers to download songs they can play on more than 100 portable devices, including Apple's popular iPod and iPod mini devices.

Seattle, Washington, Real introduced Harmony in beta last month, sparking a showdown with Apple over whether it could offer songs at the RealNetworks' music store that can be played on the iPod.

Apple has not licensed to other companies the technology that makes music play on the iPod. Shortly after Harmony was unveiled, the vendor distributed a statement labelling Real as a "hacker."

While the dispute continues to simmer, Real's music sale is aimed at drumming up demand for its software and music site, at least for a short while.

The company will not be able to maintain the sale for long since selling music downloads is a low-margin business even at normal prices, said Mark Mulligan, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research in London.

"This is an incredibly difficult strategy that has to be finely balanced to benefit alternative revenue streams," Mulligan said. Real is clearly trying to expand the installed base of its media software, but risks attracting only bargain hunters with no brand loyalty, he said.

Real is fighting both the popularity of Apple's iTunes -- which has sold around 100 million songs -- and the market dominance of Microsoft's Windows Media Player, as well as a handful of other music download providers, Mulligan said.

"Real is fighting against everyone and you can't wage a war on all fronts," Mulligan said. "You have to do something different, like Apple has with the iPod."

Real has defined its difference as choice, saying that its software allows consumers to play music on a range of devices without being locked into a particular format.

It remains to be seen whether this, and short-term cut rate prices, will differentiate Real in the long term.

Representatives for Real and Apple in London were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?