Only time will tell. This morning, RealNetworks launched its new Rhapsody DNA platform and announced a related partnership with SanDisk. Rhapsody DNA will be integrated with Sansa MP3 players this fall, starting with the e200 series. So what is Rhapsody DNA? It's hard to visualize precisely what the new platform will offer, but the gist is that it will provide a seamless experience (such as with the iPod + iTunes relationship, I would think) between Rhapsody and the Sansa e200. Here are some of the details from the press release:
- The RealNetworks/SanDisk partnership will feature groundbreaking new features embedded in a line of SanDisk's Sansa e200 series of portable players. The collaboration will allow consumers to personalize their devices and take full advantage of both Rhapsody's subscription model and SanDisk's flash-based MP3 player capabilities and capacity.
- The e200s with the special Rhapsody DNA platform will come equipped with nearly 32 hours of preloaded music from hundreds of the world's most popular artists on EMI Recorded Music, SonyBMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, as well as leading independent labels.
- The players also include unique capabilities, such as automatically updating with new music based on a consumer's personal tastes and historical music preferences.
- Rhapsody DNA gives OEMs and device partners such as SanDisk a world-class platform they can use to compete on a one-to-one basis with other end-to-end music experiences. Although Rhapsody DNA can operate on devices that are compatible with--and include--Microsoft's PlaysForSure platform, Rhapsody DNA does not depend on Microsoft technology in any way.
- The Rhapsody DNA platform is based on Real's Helix digital rights management and includes a number of enabling and optimizing technologies that allow partners to take full advantage of Rhapsody's unlimited access model. With Rhapsody DNA, users can access their music across different types of devices. Real and SanDisk cooperated closely to optimize SanDisk's Sansa e200 players to work seamlessly in the new Rhapsody DNA environment.
- In addition to SanDisk, Real is currently working with several other device manufacturers to integrate support for the Rhapsody DNA platform.
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me, especially since SanDisk ranks second in the U.S. MP3 player market, and Rhapsody--which currently has 1.625 million subscribers--is the leader in the subscription music service space. However, the success will depend on how well the relationship works in practice. Personally, I can't wait to get some hands-on experience with the new platform. Stay tuned for a review.