RealNetworks' iPod Fumble Takes Three of 2004's Top 10 Business Blunders

RealNetworksi attempts at achieving compatibility between its digital music store and Appleis iPod has landed the company three spots in the annual Business 2.0 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.

Coming in seventh place under the heading "If you canit beat iem, join iem" is the April 2004 report that RealNetworksi CEO Rob Glaser was seeking a partnership with Apple that would enable RealNetworksi music tracks to be compatible with the iPod. After Apple CEO Steve Jobs ignored the offer, Mr. Glaser fired back: "Steve is showing a high level of fear."

Capturing the eighth spot on the list with "If you canit beat iem, and you canit join iem, encourage people to whine about iem," is RealNetworksi "Freedom of Music Choice" campaign, which arrived in August with a petition calling for music fans to voice their support in favor of Apple opening up the iPod platform. Instead of garnering support for RealNetworks, however, the vast majority of those who signed RealNetworksi petition commented in support of Apple and criticized RealNetworks, forcing the company to pull the petition idea later that day.

Lastly, in the ninth place, under the title "If you canit beat iem, and you canit join iem, and you canit get people to whine about iem...put out some half-baked software that forever alienates potential customers" is RealNetworksi decision to go ahead and release iPod-compatible music anyway, in a move that Apple likened to employing hacker tactics. Apple also warned customers that future iPod updates may break compatibility with RealNetworksi platform-agnostic music files. In November, an iPod firmware update did just that.