Magic 8-Ball Answers Your Questions Regarding RealNetworks’ Harmony

Q:  So, the deal with RealNetworks’ new Harmony software is that, in order to allow songs purchased from Real’s music store to play on the iPod, Real reverse-engineered Apple’s proprietary FairPlay AAC protected format?

A:  AS I SEE IT, YES.

Q:  So it translates files protected using Real’s proprietary DRM format into files using Apple’s proprietary DRM format?

A:  YES.

Q:  Isn’t RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser the same guy who four months ago pleaded with Apple to open the iPod to Real’s protected file format, claiming, “Apple’s (market) share will go down if they continue to do this. The only way to presently put songs on an iPod is to (buy) them from iTunes.”

A:  WITHOUT A DOUBT.

Q:  That makes no sense, and conveniently ignores the fact that the iPod supports non-protected songs ripped from any CD. Isn’t what he really means that it’s the market share for RealNetworks’ protected file format that will go down if it doesn’t work on the iPod?

A:  YOU MAY RELY ON IT.

Q:  Do you think RealNetworks honestly expected Apple to allow them to unofficially support the iPod, without paying Apple a cent in licensing fees, after Apple refused to allow them to officially support it?

A:  REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN.

Q:  Doesn’t this seem more like a desperate publicity stunt than a legitimate business strategy?

A:  MOST LIKELY.

Q:  Apple issued a press release responding to RealNetworks’ announcement, wherein Apple states, “We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real’s Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods.” Do you agree that this sounds like a threat that Apple will purposely break RealNetworks’ reverse-engineered hack?

A:  AS I SEE IT, YES.

Q:  What about RealNetworks’ claim that they’re considering licensing Harmony to other companies? Is this a joke?

A:  BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW.

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