Why the backlash against Real over iPod compatibility?
A lot of people are wondering why there is any backlash at all to Real Networks from their reverse engineering of the Fairplay DRM system that Apple uses.
My opinion on this is fairly simple:
1) iPod users feel that Apple has played fairly with them. Calling their DRM solution Fairplay is not a misnomer. It gives reasonable restrictions that can be circumvented straightforwardly (even by Apple’s own software) if you need “fair use”.
2) Real is company that tries to mislead their customers at every turn. Everything from reassigning every extension to their player, installing spyware type crap, to making the free player almost impossible to find on their site has been fair game for Real.
So the idea that Real is taking advantage of Apple for their gain — with little benefit for consumers given the size of the iTunes Music Stores selection and the reasonable price — is offensive to most people who have come to love their iPod and Apple to some degree. To add insult to injury, Real’s site doesn’t even work with Macs.
Finally, there already was a way for Real to sell songs and have them play on the iPod, as unDRMed files. One thing that is missing from this discussion is the fact that even though they use Fairplay, the restrictions they place on their songs are much more restrictive than iTMS. When is the last time a hacker was hailed for adding DRM to something?