Technology analysis of the latest gadgets, consoles, and computer architectures.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Articles for the Early Afternoon Time

Introducing the iPod London toilet guide - The Register

"Developed by digital media firm Nykris for reasons probably best known to themselves, pPod is a multimedia toilet guide that combines written reviews and hilariously appropriate sound tracks (Handel's Water Music, for instance) to help people find the "loveliest" facility in their vicinity.

Just what the world was waiting for."

And in other news...RealNetworks breaks Apple's hold on iPod

Months ago, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser attempted to meet with Steve Jobs to discuss opening up the Fairplay DRM License used with files purchased on the iTunes music store and the iPod. However, the plan was a failure when Steve made it clear that he was not interested in opening up the iPod. Apple has previously stated that the reason for the iTunes music store to exist was to sell iPods and that the music store cannot generate enough revenue on its own. Even though the Real Music Store will also help sell iPods by supporting them, Apple refuses to budge.

Looks like the tables have turned...persistence is a virtue. RealNetworks announced today that they are working on a Helix DRM-extension called Harmony. This software allows the RealNetworks Music Store AAC files to be ported to any device regardless of format, whether the device uses iTunes-based AAC Fairplay or Windows Media. In comparison to iTunes and the WMA-based music stores, RealNetworks already offers great features through its music store. In particular, I actually wouldn't mind paying $.99 a song for 192 kbit AAC files vs. 128 kbit iTunes AAC or 128 kbit WMA. I would definately start buying albums online if the songs were encoded with lossless compression (such as FLAC...might as well give LiveDownloads credit for leading the way) and, since I still like purchasing groups of songs called "albums", the album cover and insert in pdf format.

Anyways, looks like RealNetworks, in terms of services and base software and codecs, is heading in the right direction. Real Player will start to fade away in the coming years as the Real-supported Helix open-source player becomes more popular. In addition, the RealPlayer video codec remains competitive with WMV and Divx, and Helix DRM seems to be the way to go, thanks to support with multiple formats and potential porting to different operating systems and devices.

Good Luck Real!