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Napster intros MP3 store with 6m songs

updated 06:25 am EDT, Tue May 20, 2008

Napster MP3 Store

Napster today launched what it says is the world's largest MP3-based music store. Effectively turning away from its reliance on protected Windows Media files, the company is offering about 6 million unguarded MP3 songs through a web-based store accessible from any computer and playable through virtually any device -- including the iPhone and iPod, Napster is keen to note. Users with iTunes can auto-sync their Napster downloads to the jukebox software. Prices for tracks remain unchanged at 99 cents each, with most full albums selling for $10.

The company plans to continue its existing protected services, including its unlimited-access subscription service and its Napster Mobile downloads for cellphones.

The move gives Napster an immediate edge over Amazon MP3, which at last count is second place behind iTunes in terms of absolute rankings but also offers a smaller unprotected catalog than Napster, at 4.5 million songs. Amazon has relied in part on its pricing to compete and sells some tracks for 89 cents, with a number of albums costing $8 or less.

Additionally, the effort suggests increased attempts to pressure Apple into accepting music licensing terms more favorable to labels. Despite being one of the first stores to offer protection-free music downloads from major labels with an EMI deal, iTunes has frequently been passed over for further deals in favor of competing shops, including Amazon, Wal-Mart, and now Napster. Universal Music Group and other labels are believed to be punishing Apple for refusing to move on pricing by giving its competitors a greater advantage in the marketplace.

In its most recent claims, iTunes has had just 3 million songs in its unprotected iTunes Plus library.

By Electronista Staff


  1. MiMiC

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007


    two sides

    i do hope Apple stays strong, but i do buy from Amazon when iTunes does not have unprotected music. I like being able to burn to MP3 and making ringtones out of any song i want...


    odd that iTunes comes up on the spellcheck here??

  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    Watch carefully

    Jobs is not dumb; he's no Ballmer. He will carefully watch the situation and adjust if necessary. For now, Apple's OK, since iTunes gives them the home-court advantage (being default for all iPods/iPhones). As long as simplicity makes it easier for users to just by from iTunes, where they have all songs, vast majority won't bother with Amazon/Napster. Why go through the hassle of shopping around when Wal-Mart will sell you your milk and cereal, frozen vegetables, as well as a blu-ray player and HDTV.

    If the labels continue to hold out on Apple (out of spite), two things can happen: either their digital downloads will begin falling (for those who don't deal with Apple), or iTunes will slowly begin to lose its dominance.

    Since iTunes still has the largest collection of tracks (DRM or otherwise), very small percentage of users will actually move away from it. Most of my computer-illiterate iTunes/iPod using friends have no idea what is the difference between regular and iTunes Plus tracks. Those that have a bit of a clue only know that the 'Plus' tracks are better, with lower compression / larger file size. They are ALL oblivious to the DRM issue. As long as it is so for the masses, there is no specific lure for them to switch away from iTunes.

  1. thedude

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006


    MP3 comes back :)

    Funny to see that Napster is going back to its roots.

  1. dampeoples

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Jul 2002


    Bring out more!

    The more 'other' stores there are out there, the less share that all of them have. I may be wrong, but I see this hurting Amazon more than Apple.

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