Why Real Player sucks

posted by Jason Kottke Mar 01, 2004

Why Real Player sucks. Real has raised antisocial software to an art form.

Reader comments

pbMar 01, 2004 at 2:07PM

Or maybe, "How Real Player sucks." It'd be interesting to look at why Real Networks has made these terrible choices. Is it the advertising business model? Is it market dominance arrogance? Is it having a free vs. pro version?

TomasMar 01, 2004 at 2:36PM

pb: I find it unlikely that anyone would buy the pro version simply because the free version is the absolutely worst piece of shit application they've ever used.

By the way, thanks for the link, Jason.

StephenMar 01, 2004 at 3:23PM

When I spring for a paid version of something that I can get with less features for free, it's always because I find the free version to be very good.

Not once have I purchased a paid-only version because I wanted to improve on a crappy free version. I can't imagine how anyone would think, "Well, the free version sucks... I'll buy it!" In my experience, the only people who pay for bad software to improve worse free ware are those who don't know of any alternatives.

donald tettoMar 01, 2004 at 4:05PM

The multi-shortcuts is a good example. I can't imagine how having 10 Realplayer shortcuts (for a program that is already always on anyway!) could possibly help them in any way. No one opens up their start menu and says, "Oh, look! Realplayer!" If they want to increase market share they have to shove their product down the throat of content providers, not the average joe. I do not understand their strategy whatsoever.

mikeMar 01, 2004 at 4:16PM

I don't understand why people still use the Real format when there's so many better alternatives. As I recall, Real was pretty much the first (or one of the first) to do that thing they do. Is their continued existance just inertia from the 90s or am I missing something? Is it the DRM?

RamMar 02, 2004 at 2:23AM

They probably are sitting on money from the early '90's perhaps. I do think they are trying to change their wayward ways however.

RBMar 02, 2004 at 4:29AM

If you click on the link here:


You get an ad-free, nag-free, spyware-free version of Real Player, thanks to the good old BBC and their unique deal with Real.

Because the BBC is publicly funded, it couldn't justify using a third-party app that pesters BBC licence fee payers for more money - so they threatened to pull out of the Real deal (pardon the pun) if real didn't offer a nag-free version of the player.

Oh - the reason the BBC still use Real, is because:

1. It works.
2. It's available on all platforms.
3. The basic player is free and is a relatively small download.
4. You can't download streams (live, or on-demand) and play them later from your PC (without using illegal stream recording software)
5. It does both audio and video

Apparently, the BBC are moving towards Windows Media Player.

jkottkeMar 02, 2004 at 8:00AM

using illegal stream recording software

Stream recording software isn't illegal. Using recording software to illegally record streaming audio is illegal. Important distinction.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.