Apple Rebuffs Online Music Alliance

Apple Computer apparently doesn't want to sing the same tune as its Internet music rival RealNetworks. Seattle-based RealNetworks says that Apple chairman Steve Jobs has rebuffed
Seattle-based RealNetworks says that Apple chairman Steve Jobs has rebuffed
an offer by RealNetworks' chief executive Rob Glaser to meet and discuss forming an online music alliance involving Apple's best-selling iPod portable players.

"He's in the neighborhood, but whatever meeting Rob wanted with Steve isn't happening," RealNetworks spokesman Greg Chiemingo said yesterday (April 15). "Steve just doesn't want to open the iPod, and we don't understand that."

Executives at Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple declined to comment.

In an interview earlier this week with The Wall Street Journal, Jobs said Apple has little incentive to open its popular digital music player to others.

"The iPod already works with the No. 1 music service in the world, and the iTunes Music Store works with the No. 1 digital-music player in the world," he said. "The No. 2s are so far behind already. Why would we want to work with No. 2?"

Glaser reportedly made the invitation in an e-mail to Jobs last week that suggested that the two companies join forces against their common enemy, Microsoft. He proposed a meeting to discuss the matter this week while he was in Silicon Valley.

As competition in the online music market has increased, RealNetworks has sought to work with Apple so RealNetworks' customers can choose to play their music collections on Apple's best-selling iPod portable players.

RealNetworks, Apple and Microsoft all are jockeying for position in the digital-media marketplace -- in which encoding formats and copy-protection technologies dictate how and on which devices consumers play their music.

Like Apple's leading iTunes song-download store, RealNetworks' online music store supports the Advanced Audio Coding format, which competes against Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format, predominantly used by other legal music sites. But because of Apple's proprietary copy-protection standard Fairplay, songs attained from RealNetworks' Rhapsody music service and RealPlayer music store cannot be played on Apple's iPod players.

"We want support for all media formats," Chiemingo said, "and it makes sense for us to make the most consistent experience for consumers so they can move their content to whatever device they want."

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