I'm puzzled by the backlash against RealNetworks for figuring out how to get music onto the iPod. Sure, I think Real makes crummy products too. But they've opened up Apple's proprietary platform, increasing choice for consumers and lowering prices. How does the user lose?
My digital hipster friends have a bit of a double standard around the iPod. The same folks who decry RIAA strongarm tactics and make fun of proprietary music platforms are happy to pay an extra $100 for a fancy Walkman that doesn't let you use the software you want to copy music to it and doesn't let you copy music back out at all (without unauthorized hacks).
The iPod is a beautiful piece of design. But it's a jail for music. Real has succeeded in unlocking the door. Why are people beating them up?
Jeremy Zawodny picked up my post; his blog has an interesting thread of comments about the issue.