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Real CEO Attacks Apple "Pigheadedness," Urges iTunes Openness
Tuesday, December 6th, 2005 at 3:55 PM - by
Apple Computer's refusal to license FairPlay, i.e. allowing iPods to play downloaded music from services other than iTunes and allowing iTunes downloads to play on players other than iPods, amounts to "pigheadedness" on the part of Steve Jobs, according to RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser. As reported by CNet News, Mr. Glaser made the comments at the Digital Living Room conference, where he also said that Apple's refusal to cooperate with other online music services promoted piracy.
"We think Apple Computer, and Steve personally, are making a mistake by making the software proprietary," Mr. Glaser said when asked if Apple's position was hurting RealNetworks.
He also said that RealNetworks would continue catering to users of Macintosh computers. "There's no reason we should penalize Apple customers for Steve's pigheadeness." On Monday, RealNetworks moved its Rhapsody music service to be a Web-based operation that included support for the Mac platform. Rhapsody had until then been Windows-only.
Acknowledging that Apple's iPod is the best digital media device (according to a similar report at BusinessWeek), Mr. Glaser warned that "this worm will turn," meaning that other digital media device makers would eventually catch up to and surpass the iPod.
In the meanwhile, he called for the music industry to pressure Apple towards opening up iTunes and the iPod.
"Steve makes for a good pinata because he's taken a position against interoperability," Mr. Glaser said. "[The music industry] should be pressuring him to change because they have leverage over him. Apple being on its own in term of interoperability makes piracy more compelling for consumers. Because, hey, if I take all my MP3s from this illegal site or that illegal site, they'll work on the iPod or anything else. Whereas if I buy them legitimately, they'll only work at one place."
Before heading RealNetworks, Mr. Glazer was an executive at Redmond, WA based Microsoft, a company built on a business model of licensing its software to any and all comers. This might explain his inability to recognize what even Wall Street has praised, and that's Apple's ability to insure a quality user experience to iPod and iTunes users by controlling the hardware and the software.
Heretofore, that has been recognized as one of the prime reasons that the company has been able to dominate the digital media device and online music download markets.
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