RealNetworks offers Harmony for music devices

Hailing the move as one that brings choice to online music services users, RealNetworks has introduced software that lets songs downloaded from its own music store be played on a variety of devices, essentially breaking Apple's proprietary grip on its market-leading iPod music player.

The new software, called Harmony, will be incorporated into RealPlayer 10.5, which will now go into beta test mode. Harmony will let users download songs from the RealPlayer Music Store into more than 70 music player devices, including the iPod and iPod mini, and products from Creative Labs, Dell, Gateway and Samsung.

Harmony is designed to support any device that uses the Apple FairPlay DRM (digital rights management) technology, the Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM or the RealNetworks Helix DRM, according to Sean Ryan, RealNetworks' vice-president of music services.

However, it's the ability to let RealPlayer Music Store tunes be played on the market-dominant iPod that is sure to arouse the most interest. Songs bought from Apple's iTunes are encrypted with the company's FairPlay DRM, which works only with the iPod, and Apple has not licensed the technology to other companies seeking compatibility with the music device.

RealNetworks did not work with Apple on Harmony, Ryan said.

In fact, Apple never responded to the offer several months ago from of Rob Glaser, RealNetworks founder and chief executive officer, to work with Apple.

Apple's integrated music service, comprising its iTunes Music Store, its DRM and the iPod, has made it the number-one online music distributor and catapulted the iPod into the leadership position in the player market, according to analysts.

The company has been protective of its service so far, and its licensing agreement prohibits iPod users from reverse engineering or otherwise attempting to derive the source code of its software.

But RealNetworks' Ryan said that the company did not reverse engineer Apple code.

"Reverse engineering is a misleading legal term," Ryan said. "It implies a method of looking at the software and seeing how it's built. We looked at publicly available data moving between the user and the iPod. We have very smart engineers that have been working on DRM for a long time."

"The RealNetworks software might be attractive if they have exclusive content not available though Apple....but even so, why would an iPod owner bother to switch devices," Deal said, considering that RealNetworks Music Store tunes can be played on iPods.

In addition, if it turns out that RealNetworks does offer a wider range of content that Apple, Apple will likely respond positively, Deal said. "Apple has been responsive to customer demand so far, making the iPod compatible with Windows," he pointed out.

The RealNetworks announcement is nevertheless positive for the company and the online music industry, according to Deal. "RealNetworks will attract people interested in having a choice, and it might make people feel safer about their music choices."

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.

Marc Ferranti

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?