Apple and Oranges

RealPlayerPutting RealPlayer up against iTunes? Are you crazy? Comparing the perceived might of Apple’s iTunes with RealPlayer hardly seems like a fair comparison. The deeper you dig into RealPlayer; the more interesting features you find.

As in the natural world, there likewise exists an “ecosystem” (a now hackneyed term) of interdependent technologies. It merges information, entertainment and commercial demand for services with hardware and software, driving growth. Apple has been criticized for building a closed system, a so-called “Walled Garden” where their hardware is optimized for their software. Like it or not, this seems to be working very well for them.


A digital media player is only a small part of iTunes today. That’s simply how content is delivered. The iTunes Store has really become a “Content Destination.” The place where digital media is sold, distributed, and managed. Expanding initially from music, to movies, Podcasts, books, Apps for Apple mobile devices, games and even scaling the Ivory Tower with iTunes U.


Both applications are the same in many ways. Their primary purpose is of course, to play digital media, and they both do that well. RealPlayer does have a few tricks up its sleeve. The interfaces for both products are similar. They both show thumbnails of artist/album covers or title lists, artist, format, time, and other information. Both have the expected player controls, libraries, playlists and so on. Overall ease of use for the respective interfaces is comparable for the Windows versions.

realplayer window


RealPlayer parts company with iTunes in providing more versatile tools. You can get a quick snapshot of how RealPlayer compares to iTunes in this chart to see the differences at a glance.

RealPlayer Compared to iTunes


RealPlayer iTunes
Supported File Types m4a, mp3, wma, ra, rv, rm, ram, mvb, wav, flv, 3gp, 3gp2, mp4, m4v, wmv, iv4, avi, MPEG-4, QCELP, EVRC m4a, mp3, wav, mp4, m4v, MPEG-4, AIFF, AAC
Device Management Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Other portable Device, Import Photos from device, Import Videos, Import Music, Copy music, video, and photos to devices, Sync music playlists iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Import Photos from device, Copy music, video, and photos to devices, Sync music playlists
Content Acquisition One Click Video Download, Audio CD ripping Audio CD ripping, iTunes store
Content Management Full media library, Automatic album art retrieval, Create and manage playlists, Trim videos (head/tail), Save still picture from videos, Convert audio and video for playback on over 100 major devices Full media library, Automatic album art retrieval, Create and manage playlists
Disc Burning Audio CD burning, Video CD burning Audio CD burning Full media library, Automatic album art retrieval, Create and manage playlists
Social Media Share links to downloaded videos on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Email

Key functions available in RealPlayer, but not iTunes:

  1. RealPlayer is a ‘Universal’ media player because of the wide range of audio and video file formats it supports. RealPlayer handles a dozen more formats than iTunes.
  2. iTunes is built to stay within that “walled garden” Apple has chosen. RealPlayer not only transfers media to the iPod, iPhone and iPad, but it does the same with Android and Blackberry devices. The number of brands and models RealPlayer can deal with is too extensive to list here.
  3. RealPlayer Features

  4. Downloading video from the Internet is one of the most popular activities people engage in. RealPlayer’s One Click Video Download feature displays a “Download This Video” button in the upper right corner of the frame when a video can be downloaded.

    Aeroplane Video

  5. The downloaded clip is automatically placed in the RealPlayer Library for viewing and other use. One of those is transferring media for playback on other devices. Often, the format downloaded is not compatible with the device. RealPlayer’s built-in Converter handles that by letting you select the original media files, then choosing from a wide variety of devices and specifications, and converts and transfers the media to the new device.

    RealPlayer Interface

  6. Even though QuickTime, not iTunes, allows for simple head & tail trimming of clips, you have to open QuickTime and separately import the video file. RealPlayer lets you use its Trimmer, and also enables taking video snapshots within the application.

    Up close

  7. With social networking and sharing of video becoming a larger part of how we communicate, RealPlayer gives you easy, direct access to the most important social sites to upload or provide links to your videos.
    social media


For basic player-to-player functions, they are on par. iTunes has a store, whereas RealPlayer doesn’t. For all-around media player operations, RealPlayer offers extensive format and device compatibility, Downloader, Converter, Trimming and Social Network linking. It simply provides the typical user with a larger arsenal of tools for the practical uses people have today.

iTunes also sets restrictions on users and devices. The authorizations and permissions required by iTunes impede the use of it on a home server network. Mine has been messed up for years, and I still can’t figure it out. Judging from the number and range of questions on this subject that occupy Apple Support Community discussions, I am not alone.

What do you like and/or dislike about iTunes and RealPlayer? Would you rather have a media store or more features in a media player?


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