Back in 2004, Real Networks created Harmony Technology, a program to allow music bought on their service to play on an iPod; this overrode the FairPlay encryption technology Apple implemented in it, which only allowed the iPod to connect to iTunes, and vice versa. Apple responded by issuing a patch that blocked it, reinforcing the connection between the iPod and iTunes.
Now Steve Jobs is going to court as a witness in the litigation between Apple and Real. All this boils down to whether or not Apple has an unfair monopoly. It’s true that Apple has a lot of power since they control their hardware, but I don’t think it’s unfair; Apple made the iPod, and consumers bought it willingly. This isn’t like the telecom industry where one big company appears, puts up the lines, shuts out any competitors from connecting to their system, and becomes the only game in town. Any other industry which connects an entire populace like the roads system, or the post office, are government controlled. Any company with the facilities can make an music player, and they can choose if they want Real to support it, and Apple can’t stop them, other than by competing against them with the iPod/iPhone/iPad.
Real’s problem is that the market for portable music players that they can connect to isn’t big enough, and that’s more the fault of the companies who make those players, cause frankly, they suck.