RealNetworks seeks musical alliance with Apple

RealNetworks made a direct appeal last week to Apple Computer, its Internet music rival, suggesting that the two companies form a common front against Microsoft in the digital music business. The offer to create a "tactical alliance" was made on April 9 by Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, the Seattle-based Internet music and video service, in an e-mail message to Steve Jobs, Apple's chairman.

But if an alliance with Apple could not be struck, Glaser strongly hinted in the e-mail message that he might be forced to form a partnership with Microsoft to pursue "very interesting opportunities" because support for Microsoft's media-playing software seems to be growing. A pact with Microsoft would be a startling reversal for RealNetworks, whose complaints about Microsoft's business tactics form a major part of the European Commission's antitrust case against the company.

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