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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Comments on “How Real Networks Shot Themselves In The Foot”

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Lor says:


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 … )

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Pansy says:

Re: 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 . . .

Marty says:

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.

steve says:

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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