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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?