Wednesday, May 28, 2003

It's like the old Rhapsody, only the same!

Alright, maybe RealONE Rhapsody (there's a mouthful for you), coincidentally launched today, is a bit different than the original Rhapsody, but one thing hasn't changed: that lousy "monthly fee" thing.

Sure, RealONE Rhapsody has a head start on the PC market versus iTMS, but the new Rhapsody is quite reminiscent of old Rhapsody (and I don't mean in a good way). The quote-unquote "new service" sports 79 cent downloads for burning a CD. Once. Here's the "fun" way Real describes it:

Can I download music to my computer?
No. RHAPSODY is an on-demand streaming service. This means you don?t have to wait for downloads to listen to CD-quality music. Once you?ve used it for a while, you may never want to download a music file again. If you want to take your music with you, we offer CD burning for an additional fee per track, when you are subscribed to the All Access subscription plan at $9.95 per month.
If you?re looking for portability beyond the CD player, stay tuned, because we are working on bringing RHAPSODY to wireless and net-attached consumer electronic devices in the near future.
Apparently the folks at Real have never heard of MP3 Players, or Jukebox software. Man, this whole thing just gives a bad name to "Creative Marketing."

But let's play devil's advocate for a moment (to the best of my extremely opinionated ability):
Let's say you, Mr. or Mrs. PC User (it's a scary idea, I know), finds Rhapsody's CD burning system perfect for some reason (I know, it's far-fetched). In order to make Rhapsody a better value than iTMS, you'll have to burn over 50 tracks onto CD (I know, you might as well just use Limewire).

Of course, I wouldn't want sell Rhapsody short here, so I'll mention that for your $9.95 monthly fee, you get to listen to unlimited streaming "CD Quality" tracks (oh joy...). And what's more frightening is the fact that "CD Quality" is the best clue as to the file type Real's using.

The bottom line here: Kick back and enjoy some 30-second previews at the iTMS, Rhapsody isn't worth worrying about.

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