Apple and Real Networks attempted to push one another off the moral highground yesterday, as the Mac vendor battled to lock the digital media firm out of the iPod user base.
The spat was sparked by Real Networks’ launch of its Harmony DRM system earlier this week. Real Networks claims the platform supports over 70 different devices, including the iPod and iPod mini, and encompasses its own Helix DRM system as well as Microsoft’s Media Audio DRM and Apple’s Fairplay DRM systems.
However, Apple is none too happy about Real Networks’ efforts to get the world’s music downloaders singing from the same hymn sheet and has responded with veiled threats of legal action against Real Networks, and pledged to change its iPod software to lock out Harmony.
In an angry statement yesterday, Apple said it was stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics of ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod. It said it that it was examining the implications of Real Networks’ move under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and other laws.
It added that following the next update to the iPod software Harmony is unlikely to work with both current and future iPods.
Real Networks insisted Harmony followed a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility. From the launch of the first IBM compatible clone, it claimed, there was clear precedent for its actions.
Unfurling the banner of customer choice, it added, consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod.
If the two companies do not hammer out a compromise, it may well be judges that ultimately decide what music can go on an iPod.