Making good on a promise not to sit idly, Apple counterattacked RealNetworks' Harmony technology with one of its newest iPod models, the iPod Photo, which debuted Oct. 26, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said Wednesday. She refused to say which, if any, other iPod models may have already received a similar software upgrade.
RealNetworks introduced Harmony in July, hoping to break down some of the walls created by incompatible, proprietary digital music standards. The Seattle-based company claimed it reverse-engineered Apple's copy-protection code so songs purchased from its RealNetworks' RealPlayer music store could be playable on Apple's best-selling iPod. Otherwise, Apple's protection scheme limits the iPod to songs downloaded from Apple's leading iTunes Music Store or songs in the generic MP3 music format.
It's unclear how many people are now stuck with songs they could no longer play on their iPods. The fact that online community banter about Apple's countermove didn't surface until this week suggests Apple still has a near-stranglehold in the digital music market. Given Apple's cultlike following, many Apple endeavors typically generate quick, energetic reactions -- good or bad.
For now, RealNetworks has not yet received any customer complaints, but the company will "look at the Apple upgrade and see how it'll make Harmony work once again with the iPod," said RealNetworks' spokesman Matt Graves.
The battle continues.
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