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October 5, 2006

RealNetworks, SanDisk take a swipe at Apple and Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 10:36 PM ET.

It’s no secret that Microsoft’s erstwhile PlaysForSure partners are a trifle miffed that they were abandoned to to continue the losing battle against Apple’s iPod/iTunes juggernaut while Microsoft blithely went its own proprietary way with the upcoming Zune. As announced last month, number 2 player maker SanDisk and media service RealNetworks have left the PlaysForSure camp to provide their own competitive player/online music store structure and today RealNetworks buffed up their part of the deal:

RealNetworks launched twin salvos Thursday against Microsoft‘s forthcoming Zune portable music player and Apple Computer‘s iPod player and iTunes Store.

Real said it has joined with big-box retailer Best Buy to launch a new Best Buy-branded digital music store powered by Real’s Rhapsody digital subscription service. The new store, which will be launched Oct. 15, will be similar to Rhapsody but will also feature exclusive content acquired by Best Buy.

Separately, Real launched an updated version of Rhapsody that can review a subscriber’s Apple iTunes library of purchased and ripped tracks and recreate it in their Rhapsody library in the form of downloadable subscription tracks at no extra charge.

The latter sounds like the popular Zune rumor that didn’t pan out, although recreating the library in subscription form isn’t quite the same as providing the tracks for free. As for sidekick SanDisk:

The moves reinforce Real’s announcement last month of a partnership with portable music player manufacturer SanDisk to sell a Rhapsody-integrated line of Sansa e200 series MP3 players. Best Buy will sell and promote Rhapsody-integrated Sansa players. In addition, the updated Rhapsody software will allow subscribers to transfer downloaded music to Sansa e200 players at about twice the speed as is possible with other subscription-compatible MP3 players.

It looks like Microsoft has managed to create another competitor with clout before they even get Zune out the door.

Filed under Alliances, Apple, Argo, Coopetition, Microsoft, PlaysForSure, RealNetworks, SanDisk, Technologies, Zune

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