More about Real.
It's pretty hard to think of a company that's screwed up their public image more than Real. All it took was a few years of overly-aggressive marketing and now there's pretty much not a soul who doesn't grimace and frown when they talk about having to launch Real Player. This happened again as I was following links to Real's home page today (because of their price war with Apple's iTunes) and the site auto-detected my OS and showed me a link to Real Player 10 for Linux! Rock! (DIRECTLY to the free version, I might add). But upon announcing this news to the other Linux heads in the office, all I got were groans. Not unexpected, but still.
It's too bad because the app is great and the company is really making amends. Not only do I personally like Rob Glaser (he's given over a million dollars to fight the reelection of Bush) but Real has also given away almost all of their code in the Helix Project and cleaned up their links on their home page and stripped out (most?) the spyware aspects of their player. They also make the player that runs on my beloved Nokia Series 60 phones.
When I think about Real, I think about the only company holding Microsoft back from complete dominance in the streaming media market. When I go to sites and they offer me a choice of Real or Windows Media, I'm happy that I have the choice to not support Microsoft's illegal monopoly and tying. When I go to NPR and am able to hear streaming audio using my Linux computer, it's Real I have to thank for it.
Not only that, but Real has been innovating as well - Real Player 10's ability to cache streaming media in a TiVo-like manner is *awesome*. It's so great to pause a live stream and then come back and continue listening where I left off. This is great. Plus the quality of the streams is great, the player is solid, etc. It's a good product and getting better with every release (unlike the Microsoft equivalent).
So why the Real-love? Because this is a company that's not going to be around for long if the (somewhat justified) knee-jerk reactions to their past business practices continues. Look at this story in The Reg, it talks about how Real coul lose up to five cents a share this quarter, and won't be profitable until at least the end of the year. Urgh.
Say what you want about Real, but having them around is *still* better than living with a Microsoft-only monoply. I think they're trying to make amends for their past transgressions, now it's time to give them another chance.