The folks at Wired have undertaken an analysis of the problems Real Networks has had in recent years with the decline of their market share in the Internet audio player market. Here is the quote I think they got the most wrong:
But the installation of Windows Media Player on almost every new PC created “a tremendous headwind against Real,” said Richard Doherty, director of Envisioneering, a market research firm. “It’s a handicap and a challenge for anyone who isn’t an embedded player.”
The problem for Real hasn’t been Microsoft’s bundling Media Player with Windows. It has been Real’s almost virus-like approach for their product. The article does focus on the issue of users finding the free version on Real’s site and the fact that there are pop-ups and other problems, but this one paragraph makes me feel as though they still try to blame Microsoft for Real’s recent slide in market share.
Speaking as a technologist, I stopped downloading and installing Real Player because it installed unwanted components, like their ridiculous download manager, that interrupted the rest of my computing experience. Further, they made it extremely difficult to fully get rid of their product. As a user with broadband, I don’t care about having to download and install an application like Real Player. I do care, however, that the application feels less like something that will give me a high quality experience and more like something trying to find a way to extract every dollar possible from me. And yes, at one point I owned a subscription to Real Player plus, but I have since switched almost exclusively to WMP for streams, unless I have no other option.
Read the full text of the Wired article – Find the Download in a Haystack.