Napster News

Napster today launched the world’s largest MP3 store: more than 50% larger than any other MP3 store… the largest major label MP3 catalog… also the largest library of independent music… Napster download sales in the U.S. will now be in the user-friendly, DRM-free MP3 format.

Joseph Weisenthal at paidContent asked the key question: Assuming the offering is roughly equivalent to the rest of the market, what gets people to switch? I don’t see why I’d start buying MP3s for .99 each from Napster when I can buy them for .89 from Amazon, where I can usually find what I want, and I hear that some people are unwilling to pay even that much.

While today’s Napster News is about the download store, Napster’s focus remains on its subscription service. I like music dialtone, but I already have it from Rhapsody, and, returning to Joseph’s question, there’s no strong reason for me to switch.

I might consider it if I wanted an MP3 player for free, or, rather, would be interested in having one included in the price of a one-year subscription. Napster is currently offering a 1MB Creative ZEN V if you sign up for a year.

I find this offer interesting as an observer of the business. It’s essentially the offer we usually get for cellphones: you can get free or discounted hardware if you commit to the service for a year (often longer in the case of phones). It’s the opposite of the Apple approach: you find our devices so cool you’ll pay a premium for them.

Having said that, I don’t see a lot of people switching to Napster, either for subscription or download.