How Real Networks Shot Themselves In The Foot

from the click-here-to-pay-$20-for-our-free-software dept

While RealNetworks has been pushing hard for anti-trust judgments against Microsoft (and were a good part of the reason for the EU's judgment against them) some are pointing out that RealNetworks have done a lot more damage to themselves. There are many people out there who actively look for alternatives to Microsoft's products. However, instead of building on any sort of "anti-Microsoft" sentiment, RealNetworks has angered users all over the place by making the free version of their product hard to find and install. Their website tries (repeatedly) to make you buy the paid-for version of the software, and even when you think you're clicking through to the free version, they keep it pretty hidden. Then, once you've downloaded the free version, the registration process is incredibly annoying, sneaking in the installation of all sorts of things people didn't want. On top of that, it throws up pop-up ads, installs unnecessary programs into your startup file and is just generally annoying. This has gotten so bad that many content providers who have offered Real audio or video streams are changing their mind after users have complained about the process. RealNetworks now claims that they've heard all the complaints and are changing to make their product less annoying. In fact, they've convinced the folks at Car Talk to go back on an earlier decision to stop using Real Audio. However, they've lost the trust of so many people, it may be too late.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Lor, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 9:44am

    true

    perfectly agree, though I work with streaming videos for some months I believed that there was no free version for MAC OSX so I simply stopped using Real, which I always liked. Then, on the encoder side, windowsmedia is lovely in its full support of mpeg2, while real free encoder is useless. Hence I abandoned real for WM on my site. (but on the other hand someone has to explain me why -on mac- http streaming of WM files works well on Safari, does not on Microsoft Explorer ... )

     

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  2.  
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    dorpus, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 9:47am

    Ditto for Netscape

    It installs a lot of annoying features also, even when you say you don't want them.

     

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  3.  
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    Jeremiah, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 9:57am

    No Subject Given

    RealPlayer sucks. I'd sooner install Quicktime than Real.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 11:05am

    No Subject Given

    Right Arm !!! Gave up trying to find it. There was nothing I want to listen to bad enough to go through the process.

    Limits my access to content but my flustration factor is no longer pegged.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Paul M Johnson, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 11:10am

    Re: true

    There is in fact a Real Player for OS X. I'm listening to a stream with it as I type this. I do agree that getting teh free player is a pain in the ass.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 11:15am

    Re: No Subject Given

    You pansies. You want a company to give you a complicated good for free *and* you want them to make it really easy for you to ignore the non-free products that actually help them pay for the development of the free product you're after. Exactly how sustainable do you think that is? While I agree they could be a bit more straightforward in their website navigation, what you get is still much more than what you have to pay.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 11:30am

    Re: No Subject Given

    RealPlayer has created a new software group all by itself. It's titled "shitware"

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Permanent4, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 12:17pm

    Real Alternative

    Instead of spending hours trying to hunt down the free version of RealPlayer, why not get Real Alternative? It plays Real files without all those annoying advertisements.

    I would use the original RealPlayer, but it crashes my PC every time I try to install it. That's no way to get my business.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Marty, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 12:35pm

    Real networks annoyances

    I just wanted to say how much I agree. I avoid them like the plague, missing out on content to avoid installing any real players. And I once paid money to them (long ago) for their CD quality realtime audio player that barely worked. The last experience I had was when I accidently installed their player, and it immediately jumped in and tried to take over everything. I immediately started getting rid of it, but it was like closing a can of worms, searching through the registry to purge them.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Pansy, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 12:38pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    What do you want us to do, Anonymous? Pay big bucks for crappy software? It's hard to please consumers, and RealNetworks hasn't. They should have an easy-to-use product that's cheap -- down to, or including, free (to users). They haven't done it. Instead, they've gone to Eurocrats to try winning competitive advantage through politics. Losers . . .

     

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  11.  
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    Bastard Sammy, Apr 6th, 2004 @ 2:43pm

    No Subject Given

    The last decent real player was g3.
    Every player they've put out since then has been garbage. This is a perfect example of a software company that doesn't use focus groups, but should.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    steve, Apr 7th, 2004 @ 9:30pm

    real networks distribution

    Anybody have any idea what kind of deal Real gets when it signs up with Comcast, TWAOL, Verizon, etc? Does anybody actually sign up for broadband to get this content access? It seems hard to imagine that Real content would make a difference, but maybe some free music downloads has some value.
    Also, why doesn't Real have more/better video content?

     

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