How To Heal Real
By Paul Sloan

(Business 2.0) – Online media pioneer RealNetworks is stumbling. Its high-profile content partner, Major League Baseball's MLB.com, bolted this season to team up with Microsoft's MSN. Its online music business, Rhapsody, is struggling to add subscribers. Real CEO Rob Glaser's recent move to let consumers download music from Real's store onto the iPod was embarrassingly rebuffed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who branded Glaser a "hacker." Undeterred, Glaser launched a cheeky—and, some might say, desperate—marketing blitz to sell iPod-compatible songs at a bargain-basement 49 cents apiece. Time is tight: Real lost $4.6 million in the latest quarter, and its stock has been hammered. What should the company do now? — INTERVIEWS BY PAUL SLOAN

MARK CUBAN Dallas Mavericks owner and former CEO of Broadcast.com "Ignore anyone who thinks business-plan execution is reflected by your stock price. Glaser should stick to Real's plan to be a leading provider of subscription digital media. The market will continue to grow, and Real will grow with it."

A. SASA ZOROVIC Senior music industry analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. "Yes, it would be nice if Apple opened up the iPod. But as an investor, I don't want RealNetworks to wage that fight on my dime. Glaser needs to cut some big content deals to get some exclusives on Real's site."

TED COHEN Senior VP for digital development and distribution at EMI Music "Rhapsody should be built into the Real Player to better promote Real's music service among the player's millions of users. I applaud Glaser's effort to open up digital music, but he then has to compete on features and service."