Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
RealPlayer is a media player, created by RealNetworks, that plays a number of multimedia formats including multiple generations of RealAudio and RealVideo codecs as well as MP3, MPEG-4, QuickTime, etc.
The first version of RealPlayer was introduced in April 1995 as RealAudio Player, one of the first media players capable of streaming media over the Internet. Version 6 of RealPlayer was called RealPlayer G2; version 9 was called RealOne Player. Free 'Basic' versions have been provided as well as paid 'Plus' versions with additional features. On Windows, version 9 subsumed the features of the separate program RealJukebox.
The current version for Windows is RealPlayer 10.5. Separate versions with far fewer features are available for Mac OS X, Linux, Unix, Palm OS and Symbian OS. The program has an open source equivalent called Helix player.
RealPlayer 10.5 for Windows also contains CD burning capabilities, PVR-style playback buffering, multimedia search, Internet radio, media libraries, an integrated web browser (based on Internet Explorer) and the ability to transfer media to a number of portable devices, including Apple's iPod, MP3 players and Windows Media devices.
RealPlayer has been commonly criticized for lower quality playback compared to other players; since RealPlayer uses industry-standard and advanced proprietary codecs, this is typically due to material having been overcompressed for slow modem speeds. The abundance of other features in RealPlayer related to marketing, such as installation of separate executables, has earned the wrath and suspicion of users as well.
RealNetworks marketing tactics in web pages and software have also been considered suspect. For instance, an anonymous person who worked for RealNetworks wrote 
- Real as a strategy had for years intentionally obscured the free download link. Even when users found the link, the download process would try and trick (there is no other word for it) the user into downloading the pay version of the software. Real would even test multiple versions of their design to see which ones were more effective at this.
- Real would resort to even more disgusting (and probably illegal) tricks. One page in the process would show the user some very legitimate choices above the "fold" (the bottom of the area of a web page that can be shown in a window without forcing the user to scroll). However, beneath the fold, Real had options for additional plug-ins with dubious value such as sound enhancers and web accelerators, that were selected BY DEFAULT. If a user did not scroll down (and the design cleverly did not signal to the user that they had any reason to do so) they would not see that there were choosing to purchase around $50 in additional software. Real told us that this page alone was responsible for driving their average order up by $25. They even told us that most people didn't even know they were buying the additional software. When we told them that we found these tactics user un-friendly, unsustainable, and bad for the brand, they agreed. But they also told us that they were "hooked on! it like heroin" and didn't want to change anything for fear of loosing revenue.
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