Feeds

Real '49c a song' promo pushes downloads to 3m

But weekly average still well below Apple's

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Real Networks claimed today that it sold 3m songs during its recent low-price download promotion, which ran for three weeks in August.

What the company doesn't say is how many songs it sold in the three-week period prior to the $0.49-a-track promo kick-off, or in the period since the offer ended.

Almost certainly sales went up during the promo. It's clear from other low-price offers Real and other digital music companies have run in the past - not to mention common sense - that punters prefer lower prices. But when Real's prices went back to $0.99, sales are likely to have fallen. Had sales momentum been maintained, Real would surely have boasted about it. What company wouldn't?

Even so, Real's sales were still a long way from Apple's iTunes Music Store (ITMS), for all its contention that digital music consumers demand greater compatibility. By 1 September, ITMS had notched up 125m downloads in total. On 11 July, it passed the 100m mark. That's 25m songs in the intervening seven-and-a-half weeks, or 3.3m a week.

True, Apple is selling music in the UK, France and Germany as well as the US market in which Real's Rhapsody service operates. But according to Apple, Europe has contributed just 5m songs to iTunes' grand total between June and early September. Assuming all 5m tracks were sold after 11 July - which isn't likely but it gives us figures to work with - that leaves the US July-September total at 20m songs, or 2.7m songs a week.

That's almost 170 per cent higher than Real's average - and that's during Real's low-price promo period, not while prices were the same as Apple's.

These figures somewhat undermines Real's 'demand for compatibility' argument. We're sure buyers do want greater compatibility, as a survey conducted by US market research agency Global Market Insite [sic] on Real's behalf purports to prove. Who, apart from Apple, Microsoft and the music industry pigopolists, doesn't? But Real's numbers show no real evidence of a mass migration to its more compatible service. Consumers may want greater compatibility than ITMS offers, but there's no clear evidence they're pursuing it.

Real's compatibility comes from its Harmony DRM technology, which can remove a Rhapsody-sourced track's Helix DRM system and replace it with data that Apple's FairPlay DRM code can understand. It also translates Helix rules into their Windows Media equivalents.

Harmony is a good thing - DRM is bad enough without limiting users' choice of hardware, software and operating system - but it is nevertheless undermined by Real's insistence that it's offering the technology to promote consumer choice rather than its own financial interest. ®

Related stories

iTunes Japan hits 'inadequate DRM' hurdle
Real halves music prices, widens loss
Real anti-Apple poll swamped by pro-Apple posters
Real fires back at Apple in DRM dogfight
Apple blasts Real DRM translator
Real to 'free' iPod from iTunes Music Store
Apple taunts Napster, Real with iTunes affiliate program
Apple fans apathetic about apathy
Apple faithful's apathy to blame for Napsterized schools

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.