RealNetworks Snaps Apple’s iPod Exclusivity

The new ‘Harmony’ technology found in RealPlayer 10.5 supposedly emulates the proprietary copy protection used in Apple’s iTunes store. We can only assume that Apple is going to lash back with alawsuit over the controversial software.

From the press release:

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 whatever device they choose.

“Compatibility is key to bringing digital music to the masses,” said Rob Glaser, founder and CEO, RealNetworks, Inc. “Before Harmony, consumers buying digital music got locked into a specific kind of portable player. Harmony changes all that. Thanks to Harmony, consumers don’t have to worry about technology when buying music. Now anyone can buy music, move it to their favorite portable device, and it will just work, just like the way DVD and CDs work.”

“Interoperability of devices and jukebox software is one of the biggest challenges for today’s music consumer,” said Thomas Hesse, Chief Strategic Officer and Head of Global Digital Business, BMG. “RealNetworks’ Harmony Technology is the first to address this issue by giving the consumer flexibility and choice.”

“EMI’s goal is to allow consumers to access our music on as many legitimate platforms as possible, and seamlessly, across a range of devices. RealNetworks’ Harmony Technology will make it easier for consumers to enjoy their digital music in a truly flexible way,” said Ted Cohen, SVP Digital Development and Distribution, EMI Music.

“I’m excited about anything that means more flexibility and availability in terms of how people enjoy music. It’s great to see RealNetworks make this step so that people can stop worrying about whether the music they buy will work on their favorite device,” commented Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam.

“Artists are better served when the customer can focus on the music not technology. You should not need an engineering degree to enjoy music, and RealNetworks’ Harmony Technology offers the simplicity that music fans demand.” Fred Davis, the founding partner of Davis, Shapiro, Lewit, Montone and Hayes. Davis Shapiro represents many of today’s most successful artists.

“Technology innovation and an ever-expanding wealth of digital media are profoundly changing how people live life and experience entertainment,” said Kevin M. Corbett, vice president of Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group. “By taking a standards-based approach in designing the Harmony Technology service, RealNetworks is taking the right first steps to make it easier for consumers to enjoy music on the playback device of their choice. Industry support for standards-based products and services is in concert with Intel’s vision of the emerging digital home where consumers will be able to enjoy music, movies, games, photos, communication and information at any time, anywhere and on any device.”

Harmony technology will be demonstrated for the first time on Tuesday July 27th at the Jupiter PlugIn conference in New York City. Beginning on Tuesday, a beta test version of RealPlayer® 10.5, the first consumer product to use Harmony Technology, will be available at www.real.com/harmony. Harmony Technology will be available later this year in other music products from RealNetworks including Real’s market-leading Rhapsody® subscription service.

With Harmony Technology, RealPlayer Music Store supports more than 70 secure portable media devices, including all 4 generations of the iPod and iPod mini, 14 products from Creative, 14 from Rio, 7 from RCA, 9 from palmOne, 18 from iRiver, and products from 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.