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Real Targets Apple With 49 Cent Downloads

From RealNetworks’ press release:

RealNetworks, Inc. today announced the biggest music sale in history to kick off the Freedom of Choice campaign. For a limited time only, every song in the RealPlayer Music Store — from a-ha to ZZ Top — costs just 49 cents, with most albums available for just $4.99. Consumers can take advantage of this offer by going to www.real.com/music.

This limited time sale celebrates the Freedom of Choice made possible by the release of the free RealPlayer 10.5, the first product that integrates Real’s revolutionary new Harmony Technology. RealPlayer with Harmony enables consumers to buy and download music that plays on more than 100 portable devices, including the Apple iPod. Before RealPlayer with Harmony, consumers buying digital music were forced to buy music that only worked on a particular brand of portable device, meaning that they could easily get “locked in” to that device, often without even knowing it.

“To celebrate Freedom of Choice, we’re running the biggest music sale in history,” said Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks. “Thanks to RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, consumers can now buy digital songs and play them on virtually any device of their choice, just like how CDs and DVDs work. We believe Freedom of Choice is both the right thing for consumers and a crucial step in bringing digital delivery of music into the mainstream.”

In addition to the Freedom of Choice music sale, RealNetworks is rolling out an extensive print, radio, and online advertising campaign. National advertising includes a full-page ad in The New York Times heralding the 49 cent download and welcoming consumers to a new era of freedom of choice in digital music. Similar ads will appear in alternative weeklies across the country and across the Internet.

Additionally, RealNetworks is launching a new web-based community at http://www.freedomofmusicchoice.org/. This community site will provide a forum where consumers can learn about compatibility issues and discuss the issues with other digital music fans.

Already the Freedom of Choice campaign has a strong base of support. Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based public advocacy organization that seeks to act as the public’s voice in the digital age, has endorsed the campaign and urged consumers to take note of the issues raised. The organization issued its own news release today in Washington DC.

“RealNetworks should be commended for increasing consumer choice in the online music world,” said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge. “Public Knowledge has long supported interoperability and freedom of choice in digital media. The more digital music formats are compatible, the more choice there is for everyone. Consumers, the recording industry and the technology industry all benefit when there is more choice in the marketplace,” Sohn said. “The more choices there are for legal downloading, the less incentive there is for illegal downloading. All companies in the technology and recording industries should take the hint and work together to bring the benefits of digital music to consumers,” she added.

The members of the musical group Devo, early music video pioneers who had a well-known album and song called “Freedom of Choice” in the early 1980s, have partnered with RealNetworks to help get the word out about the importance of consumer freedom of music choice.

“History has shown consumers don’t like proprietary systems,” said Gerald V. Casale, of Devo. “Consumers and musicians will both benefit from a digital music environment that gives the consumers the ultimate freedom to choose where they buy music regardless of the kind of device they want to play in on.”

RealNetworks announced on July 26th the beta test of the new Harmony Technology, the world’s first DRM translation system to enable consumers to securely transfer purchased music to every popular secure music device. Harmony Technology frees consumers from the limitation of being locked into a specific portable device when they buy digital music. Now consumers can build their library of downloads secure in the knowledge that it will play on virtually any device they choose.

Available as part of RealPlayer, the first consumer product to use Harmony Technology, consumers can get Harmony at http://www.real.com/.

With Harmony Technology, RealPlayer Music Store supports more than 100 secure portable media devices, including all 4 generations of the iPod and iPod mini, and products from Creative Labs, Rio, RCA, palmOne, iRiver, Dell, Gateway, and Samsung. Generally speaking, Harmony supports any device that uses the Apple FairPlay DRM, The Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM, or the RealNetworks Helix DRM, giving RealPlayer Music Store support for more secure devices than any other music store on the Internet. Harmony Technology will be available later this year in other music products from RealNetworks including Real’s market-leading Rhapsody subscription service.