Real wants to partner up with Apple when it comes to distributing music. I hope Jobs makes the smart move and makes this “tactical alliance.” Apple really has nothing to lose and will probably only further cement itself as the leader in legal music downloads.
Sure, this will probably take business away from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (which is pretty sweet), but Apple never saw iTMS as a money maker. In fact, they have publically stated that the purpose of iTMS is to drive sales for the iPod, which have been excellent (growing by 909% over the past year). So, by partnering up with Real, Apple will gain another source by which to propel iPod sales. It won’t be as direct as it’s own service, but it will be a little extra.
As the music downloading market starts to get crowded, especially with heavy-weights such as Sony and Microsoft about to enter the fray, Apple is going to need partners if it doesn’t want it’s AAC format knocked out by WMA. And, as a consumer, I don’t want WMA as the standard because it’s completely proprietary and it sucks. AAC is at least based on an internet standard: mpeg-4.
The only drawback to this whole deal is that this dude would be tied to Apple, a company that is obsessed with aesthetics:
UPDATE: Jobs made a stupid decision.