Real Networks (RNWK) to compete with Napster (NAPS)

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Includes: NAPS, RNWK
by: David Jackson

Barron's columnist Eric Savitz recounted a conversation with Real Networks (ticker: RNWK) CEO Rob Glaser that should be noted by Napster (ticker: NAPS) and Apple (ticker: AAPL) shareholders. Savitz writes:

Over lunch one day, I got an earful from RealNetworks' Glaser, one
of the more outspoken tech industry CEOs. Among other things, he told
me:

That Real will have a portable music subscription service, a la
Napster-to-Go, by the end of 2005, but that Real's would be more
polished. "To call their service a beta would be charitable," he said.

That despite Apple's protestations to the contrary, Steve Jobs could
eventually decide to offer a subscription music service. "They will
trash it, until the millisecond they decide to do it."

That Microsoft is making a mess of "Plays For Sure," its effort to
provide an umbrella brand for non-Apple music players and download
sites. "It makes the marketing for Microsoft Bob look masterful," he
said. Which is not to say that he thinks marketing is the only issue.
"They're taking a bunch of online sites that aren't that good, a bunch
of products that aren't very good, and putting a logo on them. Every
nickel they spend on this is a wasted nickel."

And not least, that he expects to see several companies adopt the
Apple model of closely tying music devices to a specific music service.
Just who that would be -- Real, maybe? He's not saying.

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