Free Your iPod: RealNetworks Kicks Off Freedom of Choice Digital Music Campaign

Today, RealNetworks announced the availability of the shipping version of RealPlayer with Harmony Technology (previously called RealPlayer 10.5) and a new promotion called Freedom of Choice. During the promotion, individual song downloads from the RealPlayer Music Store will cost just 49 cents and all album downloads will be half price--about $5 to $6 per album. RealNetworks' Harmony Technology lets songs from the RealPlayer Music Store work with previously incompatible devices, including the Apple iPod and the Dell Digital Jukebox (DJ).
"To celebrate Freedom of Choice, we're running the biggest music sale in history," RealNetworks Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said. "Thanks to RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, consumers can now buy digital songs and play them on virtually any device of their choice. 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."
Thanks to the Harmony Technology, the RealPlayer Music Store is now compatible with more 100 portable devices, far more than the Apple iTunes Music Store, which supports just one device, and other online music stores, which support as many as 70 devices, depending on the service. Apple Computer has pledged to fight back against RealNetworks' "hacker" techniques, although Apple has been short on specifics, and most legal experts agree that RealNetworks' approach to compatibility not only is legal but also has many precedents. Indeed, the PC industry itself started when Compaq legally reverse-engineered IBM's PC BIOS.
RealNetworks will tout the Freedom of Choice message through an extensive online, print, and radio advertising campaign, which includes a full-page ad in today's "The New York Times," and through a new Freedom of Music Choice Web-based community, which the company will use to explain its stance and interact with customers. Public Knowledge, a public-advocacy group that's based in Washington, D.C., has endorsed the campaign.
The title Freedom of Choice is taken from Devo's 1980 hit album of the same name. Not coincidentally, Devo is supporting RealNetworks' campaign to force Apple to open up the iPod. "People should be allowed to play their songs on any device they want," Devo band member Gerald V. Casale said. "As you go through life, moving through time and through space and with friends and here and there, you never know what device you're going to have available to you."
To take advantage of the promotion and to download the new RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, visit the RealNetworks Web site. To learn more about the Web-based community, visit the Freedom of Music Choice Web site.

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