RealNetworks Introduces New Player: We Already Have Too Many

Last week at the D5 conference, RealNetworks introduced a new RealPlayer that allows users to download videos from any website that aren’t protected by DRM. The player allows many formats of videos to be downloaded including Flash, Windows Media and QuickTime. A premium version of the player for $29.95 allows users to burn that content to a DVD. Now aside from the obvious idea that content owners may revolt at the idea of people being able to save their content whether they want them to or not, I just don’t see the value to RealNetworks in a new player. Why offer it?

RealNetworks has been out of the video format space for some time. They are a major player in the music and audio space with their Rhapsody offering but not for anything that pertains to video. So how does having a new video player help any other aspect of their business? I listened to an audio interview with Rob Glaser at on this subject and still I don’t see the value. Rafat asked Rob directly what the business model was for this new player but didn’t get an answer that really gave any specific details.

Clearly Real wants consumers to download the player and then hopefully
buy the premium version so they can burn content to DVDs. But isn’t this
the exact same model we saw with the free RealPlayer and the RealPlayer
Plus version years ago? Is it really the right time in the market to be trying to up-sell consumers on the functionality of a media player?

And I think the bigger question is, do we really need more players in the industry? Isn’t it already hard enough for consumers? How many more players and plugins are we going to try and force viewers to have to download? Windows Media Player, Silverlight Plugin, Flash Plugin, Adobe Media Player (later in the year), QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, DivX, BitTorrent etc…. and potentially other plugins depending on what site you are viewing video from. I think it is too many already, without the new player from Real.

RealNetworks Please Note: QuickTime is spelled as one word, capital Q and capital T. It is wrong in your press release.