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Best Buy, Real and SanDisk To Launch Music Service 109

Posted by Zonk
from the by-your-powers-combined dept.
M00NIE writes "Best Buy has announced it's going to join forces with Real and SanDisk to launch a new online music store. The new technology apparently makes use of Sansa music players that support Rhapsody DNA subscriptions." From the article: "As far as technical details go, Best Buy's new service is going to be identical to Rhapsody's current offering of WMA-protected audio files with the additional features provided by Rhapsody DNA. Rhapsody DNA is based on Real's Helix DRM and gives users the ability to access their content across different types of devices, and provides what RealNetworks describes as an "end-to-end music experience" similar to the closed ecosystem approach that Apple uses and Microsoft will be using with the Zune."
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Best Buy, Real and SanDisk To Launch Music Service

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  • why? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Hennell (1005107)
    do we need another music store?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      yes, the more mutually exclusive DRM systems, the better.
      • Their guns are pointed right at their own feet. It'll be fun to see what happens when they shoot :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chroot_james (833654)
      It's never about need... It's about money. It's probably not hard to put one together and maintain and they'll probably make a good amount of money. They also have quite a bit of leverage for promoting it along with anything they sell. "Buy an mp3 player from us and get 10 free song downloads!" The music store doesn't even have to be the main selling point when free songs might be the deciding factor on where to get your mp3 player.
    • by Korin43 (881732)
      From their perspective, there's no reason not to. 1. Set up website selling 5 Mb files for a dollar 2. ??? 3. Profit!
    • If everyone had iPods, then no. I don't even know if this would be considered competition. This is just a service for those using their product.
  • Another way to not buy music! Brilliant! What next? Door to door music salesmen?
    • by daeg (828071)
      Best not visit my home. Door to door salesmen are a threat to my personal and property safety and, according to Florida law, I can shoot them on sight.

      Actually, maybe that's a good way to purge the music industry...
      • by DittoBox (978894)
        Sooo...What's the housing prices like in Florida? I'll pack my guns and be right down!
  • Real and WMA? I think I'd rather just stab myself with an icepick. What the hell is wrong with these morons? More restictive DRM attached to EXTREMELY crappy players is going to somehow take the web by storm, despite all historical evidence to the contrary?

    Too many idiots are buying into the Zune hype.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      Best Buy, Microsoft DRM and Real.

      Could they possibly have come up with a better combo for me to rush out and ignore?

      I'm giving Sansa the benefit of the doubt until I see how the whole Rhythmbox thing turns out, which means I ain't buyin' that yet either.

      KFG
      • by krell (896769)
        "Best Buy, Microsoft DRM and Real. Could they possibly have come up with a better combo for me to rush out and ignore?"

        I donno....maybe they can slap the Packard Bell name on the digital music players?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kfg (145172) *
          ....maybe they can slap the Packard Bell name on the digital music players?

          Mum! Dad! Don't touch it. It's evil!

          KFG
      • by hal2814 (725639)
        I hear that Damark will be handling the print version of their catalog.
      • Best Buy, Microsoft DRM and Real.

        Could they possibly have come up with a better combo for me to rush out and ignore?

        Free coupons for the store when you subscribe to AOL, and with your first purchase you get a free Kevin Federline track.

        Anyone else?

        • by kfg (145172) *
          Arrrrrrrrrgh! No! Pleeeeeeeeeease, Mr. Wizard, I want to go hoooooooome!

          KFG
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DittoBox (978894)
        You mixed Rhythmbox with Rockbox: Rockbox the replacement firmware project, http://www.rockbox.org/ [rockbox.org] and Rhythmbox, the GNOME iTunes-like player: http://www.gnome.org/projects/rhythmbox/ [gnome.org]
        • by kfg (145172) *
          You mixed Rhythmbox with Rockbox

          Indeed I did. I hate when that happens. Mea Culpa.

          I shall take myself out and have me flogged with a wet Vorbis. If I don't know what he's done to deserve it; he will.

          KFG
      • I agree. C'mon SanDisk, did you have to jump into bed with Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub all at the same time?
    • by vought (160908)
      What the hell is wrong with these morons?

      After living in their cars on the streets of Wichita for five years, the Dot-Scammers are back in town - with new suits, new shoes, new business ideas, and a new attitude! (They've still got the same penchant for parties, though.)

      I hope they crash and burn twice as violently this time. Maybe that'll learn 'em.
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:02PM (#16326829) Journal
        Well, Microsoft isn't exactly a dotbomb phenomenon, but this whole Zune thing screams Gizmondo [wired.com] to me...Whole lot of hype on a feature rich platform, that will nonetheless fail to capture market share.

        Okay, they're doing pretty well against Sony...Pried open a nice niche in the console market. But they're competing on their home turf there...Anyone want to argue that Windows doesn't dominate PC gaming?

        But competing against Apple where the atributes you have to beat are Coolness, User Interface, and User Friendlyness? What the hell are they smoking? It's not going to happen, it's going to be like those damn Mac Commercials [apple.com]...the dividing line between cool and crap is very clear.
        • But competing against Apple where the atributes you have to beat are Coolness, User Interface, and User Friendlyness? What the hell are they smoking? It's not going to happen, it's going to be like those damn Mac Commercials...the dividing line between cool and crap is very clear.

          God forbid that an organization make an attempt to offer products and services in an open market.
          Do you think it will be so difficult for these large companies to create "Coolness, User Interface, and User Friendlyness"? At the
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:55PM (#16326693)
      > Real and WMA? I think I'd rather just stab myself with an icepick. What the hell is wrong with these morons? More restictive DRM attached to EXTREMELY crappy players is going to somehow take the web by storm, despite all historical evidence to the contrary?

      I agree. There's more to this story than meets the eye.

      According to this article [dapreview.net], the underlying hardware is based on the e200 series of players. That's interesting because the e200 [anythingbutipod.com]'s most distinguishing feature is its support for both MTP mode (yuck, Media Transfer Protocol means "works on XP only, and you can only transfer files by politely asking WMP10/11+ for permission") and UMS (woohoo, USB Mass Storage, it mounts like every other USB drive on every OS in the world) mode.

      There's also been rumors of interest from Sandisk in working with the Rockbox [daniel.haxx.se] folks.

      I speculate that Real is paying Sandisk a small fortune to place Real-branded (and Real-DRM-infected) firmware on the existing Sansa e200 hardware. The branding of the player "Sansa Rhapsody" doesn't stomp all over the "Sansa e2x0" series. Sandisk makes money off Real's licensing fees and the hardware even if the programme flops flat on its face. Sandisk, after all, is in the business of selling flash memory, not MP3 players - hence why the e200 is flash-based and has an expansion slot for MicroSD. If you're a flash manufacturer, high-capacity flash-based MP3 players are a great means of not just driving sales, but for boosting profit margins.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by c0d3g33k (102699)
        Quoth Tackhead: "MTP mode (yuck, Media Transfer Protocol means "works on XP only, and you can only transfer files by politely asking WMP10/11+ for permission") and UMS (woohoo, USB Mass Storage, it mounts like every other USB drive on every OS in the world) mode."

        I have an Sansa e200 player. For what it's worth, MTP also works well with recent versions of Winamp, so WMP isn't obligatory. Yes, it's still on Windows, but it's a little less painful than being forced to use WMP. The WinAmp support for audi

        • by Firehed (942385)
          Well, consider that UMS is really only useful for geeks. Your average user will freak out if they actually have to look at files in anything other than the "Open" window for MS Word. While I hate things being proprietary and/or limiting to a single platform, it's FAR easier when it works correctly (with iTunes, almost always; with WMP, I'd wager not so much).
    • There's no way i'm going to be installing anything made by Real Networks... The last time I installed it, it loaded itself on boot, and just ate up memory. And if I remember correctly, they also gave me some spyware too. Oh yeah, and not to mention that really shitty player... oh god..
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Let me guess..
      You jumped on the iPod bandwagon and probably NEVER even used, seen, or know anything about the Sandisk players (or ANY player besides the ones from Apple) and have never used or seen Rhapsody either right? Quick, search Google for some negative reviews that you can cut and paste tidbits from to make it look like you actually have tried other products and services.

      I have been using Rhapsody for years and I love it and I have zero complaints. I have no comment on the music to go service or th
  • by krell (896769) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:32PM (#16326375) Journal
    Are the helix files easily translated into more standard files that I could play on my existing hardware/players? There's no way I'm going to pay for crippled files that hardly play on anything.
    • Originally Helix was meant to be kind of a meta-standard for DRM, allowing the same files to be available in different formats to be compatible with different devices.

      As far as I know though, it only supports Real and WMA, which is to say Windows and Windows compatible players.

      It's a big standards war...Everyone is trying to turn their DRM into the standard, and so no one wants their stuff to be interoperable with their competition. Microsoft and Apple are in the best position to push their stuff right now,
      • What confuses me is that the new MS player isn't compatable with PlaysForSure?

        If so, that's really going to undermine the "PlaysForSure" brand...
  • by monkeySauce (562927) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:33PM (#16326385) Journal
    Knowing BestBuy, they will be heavily pitching (or shoving down your throat) extended warranties on their music, since your backups will probably be rendered useless by their DRM.
    • "Knowing BestBuy, they will be heavily pitching (or shoving down your throat) extended warranties on their music, since your backups will probably be rendered useless by their DRM."

      And they'll advertise music players for $29.99, but when you get there you find out that it's really $159.99 with a $130 rebate, which you never receive after you mail in the rebate form (there is fine print that basically says they aren't obligated to pay you after all).
      • by gwbennett (988163)
        When I went to get a USB2.0 PATA enclosure this weekend, the guy told me BB no longer uses any mail-in rebates. Ever. True/false?
    • by 93,000 (150453) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:56PM (#16327681)
      I bought a 512 meg sansa 230, or whatever the older model # blue one is. It was $40, and the dufus at the register gives me the service plan pitch. I say no. He adds "You do know that those are known to have battery issues, don't you?" I smiled and said, "Yes, but I'm willing to absorb that risk," then walked out laughing my ass off.

      The player takes a friggin AAA.
  • Is this a joke? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:36PM (#16326427)
    So let me get this straight-three minority players in the online music market think that by combining physical stores, codecs people despise, and mp3 players nobody buys will produce a winning service? Start shorting those stocks now, folks.
    • Or, rather, at the risk of repeating Moglen:

      "You don't know what the world you're living in is going to be like but you can guess some things about it: there will be no music companies in it. Now if you leave them alone to buy more congressmen, in this very corrupt time of ours, they will survive for a little while longer but all of this talk is about the technicalities of the adjustment of the terms of their demise. When we want to start talking about something that matters, we would do better to begin fro
    • Yeah, my first thought when reading the headline was, could there be 3 companies that could join forces that I'd want less to do with? And then I thought, maybe.... CompUSA selling MP3 players based on..... LaCIE hard drives with music from.... Real. Nope, in this mad-lib I can't think of something worse than Real.

      Anyone else have something better (worse)? _____________ selling MP3 players based on _____________ with Music from _____________.

      • Haliburton selling MP3 players based on punch cards with Music from bonzibuddy.
      • by blugu64 (633729)
        I'll take a stab at it

          WalMart selling MP3 players based on SCO Unixware with Music from ClearChannel..

        even then I just donno
    • First of all, Real, Sandisk and Best Buy are firms in other industries offering a substitute product. This alliance is healthy for the competitive environment. What makes this alliance dubious? I think Best Buy has the retail power and agressive marketing to make this idea work.

      Why are you personally threatened by this? If you're an Apple fanboy, you can still purchase your protected media from the iTunes store. God forbid anyone offer competition to Apple. Face it, in the near distant future, Apple's main
  • ...I get twice the DRM for twice the price! What a deal!
  • Huge... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by symie5 (1001116)
    This will probably be huge, IMO. Best Buy has a large customer base, many of whom are completely ignorant of the fact that they can buy songs individually online...they come into the store looking for a CD...something they can hold in their hands and place in a player)...and you know the BBY salespeople will rape them with a rehearsed speech about this service and why they should believe it IS the best way to purchase music. Many people will writhe in discomfort, squirming to get away from the pushy high
    • [warning, over-generalizations ahead] People are sheep and people are stupid [/end warning] however they're not that stupid.

      This thing is going to drop like a rock. I give it 6 mos. to a year, tops.

    • I disagree. Best Buy has pull as a media outlet, but their online end is pure crap because they use it purely to drive business to their retail stores.

      They're also in many ways customer-hostile. Return a dvd without a reciept, and get treated like a child molester, even if it's still got all the original best buy stickers on it. That sort of attitude fits right in with the DRM scheme that they're espousing in this online service.

      Unless Microsoft craps a miracle and their clunky "available in white, black, a
      • "Unless Microsoft craps a miracle and their clunky "available in white, black, and brown" player turns out to be amazing, this service is going to languish and fail like dozens of others."

        Hi-dee hi! But it wouldn't be so bad if the music didn't happen to be crap as well.
      • by symie5 (1001116)
        Best Buy has pull as a media outlet, but their online end is pure crap because they use it purely to drive business to their retail stores.
        That's why I think it could potentially do well. They have a huge number of people in their stores that they can try and talk into using the service. Combine that with any traffic they get through normal internet customers and the service could (stress could, not will) do very well.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)
      Many people will writhe in discomfort, squirming to get away from the pushy high school kid in the blue shirt, but Best Buy will succeed in seducing many others.

      Probably so. After all, "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

      Best Buy is legendary as a terrible place to shop; I've had plenty of nontechnical people tell me how miserable their shopping experiences were there; yet Best Buy seems to be doing just fine as a company despite this. Even the ill-fated DIVX v
      • by Moofie (22272)
        "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

        Well, except for those Divx guys. That went over like the proverbial stainless steel Hindenburg.
        • by Grishnakh (216268)
          I don't know about this. I believe the executives and managers who worked on DIVX got paid handsomely, and when it collapsed went to work on something else at another inflated salary even though they had just proven themselves incompetent. This always seems to happen in corporations: "The last project you headed up was a complete failure? That's ok, you're hired!!" The only people who probably actually lost money on that debacle were the investors (stockholders).
          • by Moofie (22272)
            That is a good point. Must be the same crowd that thinks there's no such thing as bad publicity.
    • by nickhart (1009937)
      the way it works is: you pay the price of a CD a month and you get to listen to all the music you want to (that is available in Rhapsody's library--one of the largest, I believe). You can listen to your music at your desk, in your living room or on the go. No, you don't own the file, but that's not the point. How much do you spend on individual tracks or CD's in a month? $15 or more? For $15 you get all you want on Rhapsody. That's the selling point and AFAIK, there is no other *portable* music subscr
  • that will ask me if I want a 2 year warranty extension on the files at only 40% on top of the actual purchase price and while I am playing the music it will......... streaming...... streaming...... have....... streaming....... some....... streaming..... problems.
  • Watching all our actions and then asking us to mail in a rebate. What's not to love?
  • No more "Company X" starts music or video service "stories" please. These anouncements are a dime a dozen and unless there is actually something unique about the store the story is pointless. Wake me up when they actually put a dent into Apple's marketshare. Then you'd have a story.
  • Their competition is called 2nd generation iPod nano and a music store that has been running, for years and ties into a piece of software currently at version 7.

    Cut off $100 of the player and $.49 of each song and you MIGHT be able to compete.
    • Cut off $100 of the player and $.49 of each song and you MIGHT be able to compete.

      Thanks for the revalation. Yes, new market entrants must provide products and services at a lower price point. [I clap my hands and hand you a silver star.]

      But the real competition will come when the marketing and service power of Best Buy is able to one up Apple. Time will tell. This is another competitive advantage Best Buy/Real/Sandisk will have over Apple. And if Best Buy is really predatory, they will stop selling i
  • It gets no better, friends! I wonder if Best Buy will offer rebates on songs?
  • are we seeing the rebirth of DIVX dvds as ipods??

    "Hey guys, APPLE is succesful with a closed ecosystem, maybe thats the magic mojo? Limiting customers choices! Brilliant!"

    The only way to beat Apple is to make something thats more compelling then an ipod. If you want a music player are you going to buy an iPod or a device just like an iPod??

    These companys need to raise the bar and come up with something compelling that Apple hasn't done already instead of trying to scamble for some of apples table scraps.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      But even if you make something more compelling than the ipod, it still doesn't help get all the ipod users over to your side because they can't bring their music that they bought on iTunes with them.
    • "The only way to beat Apple is to make something thats more compelling then an ipod."

      It's not the iPod or the iTunes Store that are compelling. It's iTunes itself. Until a competitor produces software that makes managing your music collection and getting it from your computer to your music player easier than iTunes does, there'll never be an "iPod killer", regardless of features, price, ease of use etc. The ease of use of iTunes made the Store possible, and it is that ease of use of the service, not the

  • No, seriously: How do they stay in business? I mean, obviously, the must be doing something right to earn Record revenue of $89.4 million, Net income of $38.9 million, and earnings per diluted share of $0.22 [realnetworks.com].

    But I don't know anyone who likes anything real does at all. I mean, they used to be a playering in streaming media, but we all know
    ...buffering...
    ...buffering...
    ...buffering...

    how well that turned out: Microsoft and Apple ate their painfully bloated spyware's lunch.

    So, market is Real a leade

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:04PM (#16326843) Homepage
    Exxon only works in Chevrolets, and Chrysler owners must seek out Citgo stations.

    It's always been that way. That's what made American oil companies and American automakers so successful.

    Consumers love being asked to guess which product to buy, knowing that there's only one chance in three they'll be able to use the product five years from now.
  • I for one welcome our new music underlords and there minions. The more fragmented the minor players become the more power Apple/iTunes has, and I trust Apple more than the RIAA (for the moment).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seriously, it's like the Voltron of crap.
  • Sansa seems to have come on the scene from out of nowhere. They make some quality products.

    I got tired of MP3 players, including an Ipod, being either unreliable or having design issues (Ipod doesn't work when you have gloves on or cold hands, Dell's players STINK, etc.)

    So I got a supercheap Sansa player that works with my Yahoo subscription and it just works great. And their other devices are priced well and look good.

    Please stow the DRM complaints. Those are the kind of complaints that stupid people m

    • Please stow the DRM complaints. Those are the kind of complaints that stupid people make. If DRM is not for you, go buy your CDs from the store. End of story. Consumer choice, remember? And buying music is also a legal choice.

      Personally, I do. It's just hard to imagine why anyone *would* pay for DRM'd music, at least for me. It's crazy--you're paying for music as if it's a service. What ever happened to the satisfaction of having an actual record (LP or CD or what have you) on the shelf that you can do w
      • by MBraynard (653724)
        Are you really so obtuse as to not understand this?

        Why would I want to have to haul a huge collection of CDs around with me, spend the time to get them onto my computer, catalog them, and then have to do it all over again every time I get a new computer?

        Why would I want to have to spend $15 a month for only one LP a month when I can spend just $5 a month and get EVERYthing that came out that month.

        Why would I want to have CDs that can scratch or break or be stolen?

        Why would I not want a service that giv

  • Wow, an unholy alliance by a bunch of companies I hate. Who do I give my personal info to in order to get in on the ground floor of this sure-to-be epic screwing over of consumers by The Triad?
  • For Once! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:47PM (#16327523) Journal
    I am truely proud to be old school.

    My mooosic player plays old fasioned MP3's and I pay $10 a month for a good news group subscription.

  • by GregMcD (639604)
    While I haven't used Rhapsody's new portable player, I have had experience with Rhapsody and I must say I thoroughly like it. I received a Sonos home audio system as a gift last winter,tried Rhapsody's free 30 day trial and haven't looked back. I can only assume that the portable music players will function in the same manner as Sonos (and I think that's a safe assumption based upon what I've read so far). If so, Rhapsody's subscription model has several benefits over a per track purchase model:

    * More aff

  • Best Buy sells iPods, I wonder how strongly they will promote iPods in the future.

    That said I could see this working if the Sansa device is promoted purely as a service device that you pay for a month of song access, just like the phone. There are some people that would go for that and they could take over that niche.

    Honestly this seems to have a much better chance of staying around than the Zune does. The Zune doesn't know what it is, is it a music player or an all you can eat browser? It will focus on
  • "Making Microsoft look competent by comparison..."
  • by SchnauzerGuy (647948) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:10PM (#16328781)
    Let me start by saying that I am definitely an iPod guy. I have owned several iPods (3G, 4G, Photo, Video, Shuffle). I develop iPod compatible software and have been heavily involved in reverse engineering the iTunes database formats [ipodlinux.org].

    That said, the e200R and Rhapsody 4.0 actually appear to be a decent alternative to an iPod/iTMS, not to mention Microsoft's Zune. I know, I know - BestBuy and Real (along with Microsoft WMA) sound like a match made in hell, but the features posted on Wired [wired.com] actually sound interesting - especially "My Rhapsody Channel" (sort of like Pandora [pandora.com] for portable music players) and "Dynamic Playlists" (same idea, but featuring new releases).

    Regardless of what you think of Real, you can't argue that they are doing some innovative things here (we'll have to see on how well it is executed). And while I haven't even touched a Sansa, they are the 2nd most popular MP3 player and do get decent reviews [engadget.com].

    I'm thinking that for people who are interested in renting music, as opposed to the $0.99 per-track iTunes model, this sounds a lot more compelling than any of the PlaysForSure alternatives. If they would just subsidize the player and sell it cheap ($99 or less) with a 1 or 2 year service commitment, I think they could do very well.
    • by SpeedyG5 (762403)
      I am actually and the designer and creator of all things apple. This give me credibility when I say "So believe me when I say this. I confess this is a great product and a perfect alternative, its something your should buy, and you can believe it cause I posted in a forum on the internet under the name dogmanofmars"
  • I bought a Sansa, and I really like it. And now they are moving into a _second_ pile of DRM bull.

    Well, I for one will continue to not sign up for any of these evil DRM sites and services. I do all my access in MSC mode (just plain USB disk installation mode) via linux.

    What's funny is that the player has to be in the no-drm plain transfer mode to do automatic firmware updates.

    Someone somewhere isn't thinking.

    And no, I don't even _care_ what the details of Helix DNA are. The concept is flawed so the implem

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