In a move that only makes me say, "duh," RealNetworks has developed a new technology that will make tracks from the RealPlayer Music Store compatible with the iPod and other portable music players which use Microsoft technology. According to Billboard, the new Real technology is called "Harmony" and will be demonstrated for the first time tomorrow at the Jupiter Plug.in conference in NYC. A beta version of Harmony will be available on a limited basis to consumers tomorrow as well. Previously, tracks purchased on the Real store have not been compatible with the iPod or any Windows Media-compatible portable music players.
The Harmony technology will actually give consumers two files for each song they purchase and download. The first track will be optimized for playback on the RealPlayer, while the second will basically be an invisible file that lives on the consumers hard drive. This second file will be used solely for transfer to portable devices. The Harmony technology will decide automatically if the second file needs to be Windows or Mac compatible and will make this conversion without any extra work being done by the user.
Wish RealNeworks good luck. They're going to need it.