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Napster Blames Microsoft for Lack of Sales 319

An anonymous reader writes "AustralianIT is reporting that Napster has blamed their inability to compete with Apple's iTunes on technical glitches from Microsoft. From the article: '"There is no question that their execution has been less than brilliant over the last 12 months," Napster chairman and chief executive Chris Gorog said at a New York conference. "Our business does rely on Microsoft's digital rights management software and our business model also relies on Microsoft's ecosystem of device manufacturers."'"
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Napster Blames Microsoft for Lack of Sales

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  • by Langfat ( 953252 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @05:43AM (#14825037) Homepage
    "Our business does rely on Microsoft..."

    Now if that doesn't set off warning bells...
    • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred AT fredshome DOT org> on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @06:23AM (#14825165) Homepage
      Apparently they came up with a new twist :
      1. Pick market MS is considering
      2. Rely on MS
      3. ???
      4. Die a horrible death

      Sorry, no profit for you.
      • "Apparently they came up with a new twist..."

        Actually, there's nothing new here. It's the age old story of the software industry:

        1) Rely on Microsoft.
        1+x) Die a horrible death.

        Although I think Napster has other facets of its business that may account for its eventual demise outside of Microsoft, such as marketing a product that customers don't want -- highly publicized crippling of digital music files.
        • Although I think Napster has other facets of its business that may account for its eventual demise outside of Microsoft, such as marketing a product that customers don't want -- highly publicized crippling of digital music files.

          Yes, instead of joining the MS bashing elite, perhaps we should focus on the fact that the devices suck, the music is crippled, and iTunes and the iPod are better devices. No Napster music on the iPod? Well, no duh your product isn't selling like hotcakes. Music plays on iTunes

    • Don't Business 101 classes still teach that having a your entire business being 100% dependent on a single vendor is a very bad thing?
    • To be fair, this is not a bad business model, A good number of first tier VC's will happily fund a parasitic business model.

      You'd be surprised at the number of companies that are funded and startup with nothing but liquidity to microsoft as their main objective. And many of them are successful.

      Visio for instance, was funded and started purely to make a product that worked well in the MS Office suite, and as they had planned, microsoft bought them for a hefty price.

      Similarly with MS Flight Simulat
  • Why, just switch to Fairplay then, you insensitive clods!
    • Re:LOLOMG! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Apple doesn't allow that so you can't.

      "Virgin demands Apple license iTunes DRM" irgin/ []

      "iTunes, DRM and competition law" []

      "Apple Avoids French Courts Opening FairPlay DRM" ction=business&id=1769 []

      I know Apple is seeing as gods here and this will be modded down to oblivious but hey face it, in this field they are as monopolistic as microsoft. Why is it so hard for some compani
      • Re:LOLOMG! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Recurve Boy ( 936129 )
        "I know Apple is seeing as gods here and this will be modded down to oblivious but hey face it, in this field they are as monopolistic as microsoft." You're not going to be modded down because you point out Apple is a monopoly. You are going to be modded down because you fail to understand that being a monopoly in and of itself is not a bad thing. What Apple has done is entirely _opt-in_.
      • Because it's bad for business! Companies aren't going to get along unless it's mutually beneficial for them. If portable music player manufacturer A produces a player that works with PMP manufacturer B's DRM and B reciprocates, then it'll just be left to innovation (of a non-DRM sort) to drive the competition and garner more sales than the other guy. But we all know that innovation is hard and expensive, so it's best to just lock the other guy(s) out and try to become the standard to which others much con
      • Re:LOLOMG! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @01:56PM (#14828225)
        Every time I see these "I will get modded down for criticizing Apple" posts, it never is. Would people stop with the whining about the Apple love on Slashdot?

        Apple's "monopoly" is opt-in. Apple isn't signing illegal OEM deals to prevent the shipment of competing products, the way Microsoft did in the 90s. You're free to buy any player you want at the local Wal-mart.
  • Why can't Napster do what iTunes has been doing?
    • Why can't Napster do what iTunes has been doing?

      Because Apple refuses to license the DRM technology they're using. They're making too much off iTMS, they want it all to themselves. Real attempted to sue them to get them to license it, but I don't think they've succeeded, at least as yet.

    • If you mean "sell things in AAC format", they'd probably want to license that to avoid any risk of a lawsuit. And Apple isn't licensing it. Even if they did, the big benefit of iTMS is "integrates with iTunes" - I don't see Napster being able to do that, as they don't control iTunes.

      If you mean "devise their own DRM, media player plugins and server infrastructure" - well, there's a whole heckuva lot more work needed to do that than there is in just hooking into Windows Media Player - and unless you're a
      • you'll be trampled all over by the other companies who are doing the exact same thing but can do so more cheaply as they didn't have to R&D a whole new DRM mechanism.

        Apple wrote their own DRM (or at least bought exclusive rights).
        Apple isn't doing anything unique - selling music as a digital file isn't remotely their idea.
        So why would the expense of rolling their own hurt Napster more than it does/did Apple? Especially if they are complaining that the current DRM system "has been less than brillian

        • You could at least have read the comment I posted ;)

          unless you're a really big name... who can offer a unique selling point

          Apple has a unique selling point: integration into iTunes, and thus the iPod.

          You go out, buy an iPod. It's got something like 70-80% market share, all your friends have one. You install the software that comes with it - iTunes. First thing you see: BUY MUSIC FROM THE iTUNES MUSIC STORE!

          Apple was also first to market with the iTMS. (Yes I know other companies were legitimately selli
          • First thing you see: BUY MUSIC FROM THE iTUNES MUSIC STORE!

            Actually this isn't precisely true, and I know because I just installed iTunes (on my work PC) for the first time in several years. The first thing you see once you get past the setup screens is a dialog asking "Do you want to go to the Music Store, or to your Library?" ... if you go to the library, you're just presented with an empty window, if you don't have any music. (And there's a thing for the iTunes MiniStore at the bottom, asking you if you
    • Because making a hardware player, bringing it to be the forefront of its market, then tying it to its music store and locking out competitors from using its DRM scheme is considerably more difficult than it appears.

    • no matter how Napster sells their product, they are compeeting for 20% of the digital music download market. For some strange reason, iTunes has the rest. Maybe, just maybe because 80% of the customers want to keep what they buy?
      And thats where you have a point: NOTHING prevents Napster from implementing the excact same DRM restrictions as Apple.

    • Re:Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @08:40AM (#14825547)
      Because iTunes allows people to do what they've always wanted to do, which is buy music. Napster's business model consists of "pay us each month and you can listen to any of the music we own, but stop paying us and you lose it all." The only people on earth who thought that was a good idea were Napster's accountants. It's not even rent-to-own, it's just pay-to-listen. They're trying to market it like it's iTunes, but it's really more like XM Radio without the nifty receiver.
      • They're trying to market it like it's iTunes, but it's really more like XM Radio without the nifty receiver

        ...but where you get to be the DJ (or have to be the DJ, depending on your point of view). To those that want to listen to a specific song at a specific time being able to demand that song from your player is what is required: can't do that with XM.
        I've read a number of people who like the idea of 'renting' and maintain that they don't listen to their archive - I for one *rarely* dip into my arch

    • Has anyone thought that if Napster is simply "renting" you the music for a monthly fee, then their competition isn't Apple and iTunes, it's satellite radio? For a similar subscription fee, I get lots of music and a very large number of talking heads. I don't have to screw around with all the computer BS, and the signal is available most anywhere I go. Same deal in the end, when I stop paying the monthly fee, the service goes dead. Personally I would think that satellite radio would have a lot more appea
    • Re:Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MetaPhyzx ( 212830 ) *
      What kills me is the number of posters lighting into Apple for having a closed system. And that's what it is. The Mac, closed system. iPod iTunes, closed system.

      But you've got Yahoo, Napster and 50 million PlaysForSure groups complaining that Apple won't license FairPlay to them, so that they can compete. And I don't blame Apple. Call me a fanboy if you want.

      If I were Apple, I'd do the same damn thing. None of those who want to get in on things have supported Apple's hardware very well or at all, have they?
  • I hate MicroSoft and Billy Gates more than most, but the article summary and title is simply unfair.

    Napster has to write software that works with Micrsoft DRM software, which has to interoperate with software from any number of hardware vendors.

    This is the classic problem that Linux people are familiar with: uniform hardware support is nearly impossible, due to hardware quirks. You've got N motherboard manufacturers that your software tries to work with. Sometimes it is impossible to write one piece of soft
    • Napster has to write software that works with Micrsoft DRM software

      No, they do not. They have always had the option of implementing their own scheme.

      Apple has it much easier, in comparison: they do it all in-house.


      • How do you think they could stay in business and not use Microsoft's DRM?

        That's why I used the word "has" -- in the sense that, if they want to stay in business, they must choose M$ DRM.
        • How do you think they could stay in business and not use Microsoft's DRM?

          Apple did it. QED.

          • Although Apple did it, that's not proof that Napster could do it.

            Apple is an integrated hardware/software company. Napster isn't, and probably couldn't become that in time.

            I'm guessing that Napster was doomed; that there was no way out.
        • How do you think they could stay in business and not use Microsoft's DRM?

          Easy: Open Source / Open Standards, mixed with some proprietary control...

          1. Use/start OSS encryption/DRM on a linux kernel
          2. Start to build community around the DRM which takes up part of the development and vetting costs
          3. Define a hardware standard (propietary) but licence manufacture to anyone who will conform
          4. Create separate patent holding company (see notes)
          5. Build initial player, so that there is something to market
          6. Watch competit
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )
        No, they do not. They have always had the option of implementing their own scheme.

        No, in practise they haven't unless they
        a) want to get into the DRM system market, which requires a completely different business model than being a music service. The two big ones (MS's WMA and Apple's FairPlay) have other business reasons to be there, Napster doesn't.
        b) release an iPod-a-like. Otherwise they have to go after all sorts of different hardware manufacturers and end up exactly where they are today, only now they
        • Apple has the one shop (iTMS), one application (iTunes), one player (iPod), (one Reich?) methodology.

          Which is why they're beating the competition. Leaving the user experience for one's product up to an outside vendor is a sure way to delivery mediocrity (which, when faced with a very good competitor, is a recipe for failure).

    • I thought PlaysForSure was a standard consisting of hardware and software that was essentially uniform, in DRM implementation terms at least. So on paper it shouldn't be that hard to support all those players, just like you could write software supporting the PalmOS or Windows CE without great difficulty.

      I think the problem with PlaysForSure is simply that the devices are unappealing compared to the iPod, and they're not significantly cheaper. So there's no particular reason not to get an iPod unless you r
      • "...PlaysForSure was a standard..."

        It's something like that. It's just people do not put words "standard" and "MicroSoft" in the same sentence for sake of principle. M$ provides the specs, the hw reference design and does all the testing (a-la WHQL).

        "I think the problem with PlaysForSure is simply that the devices are unappealing compared to the iPod,"

        That's the first problem. Second one is iTunes: I yet to see any other player which reaches the golden ratio of features and simplicity. E.g. Sony faile

    • The real problem is Microsofts DRM just does not work.
      It doesn't work with either of my mp3 players even though they claim to support it.
      It doesn't work very well if you want to burn cd's either.
      (( You eat up your copy license when the track is converted not when the CD is burned. This causes several problems not least you select a buch of tracks to burn, media player converts them all eating up a "copy" for each track then decides there is not enough room on the CD and bails out -- 16 rights to copy which
  • by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @05:47AM (#14825058) Homepage

    Are they sure it wasn't the spooky commercials they were playing on late night TV a while back? Those things still give me the creeps.

    • Are they sure it wasn't the spooky commercials they were playing on late night TV a while back? Those things still give me the creeps.

      They can't be as bad as Rhapsody's crack-addled spokesman. He sounds like he's torn between channeling the OxyClean guy and wandering off the stage to shoot himself. If you haven't seen it, it's on Real's press page. []
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @05:53AM (#14825070) Journal
    You can't copy the songs to an iPod. At least not without jumping through hoops.
    • by jcr ( 53032 )
      Every kid in the world probably knows that "plays for sure" means "won't work with your iPod". The ironic thing here is that if the RIAA wants to have some leverage over Apple, they'll have to make it possible for the Napsters of the world to offer songs that play on the iPod, which means they have to let them sell songs that don't have DRM!

      None of the hardware makers ever wanted DRM in the first place. It's expensive to implement, and it's the #1 driver of support issues.

      The rational solution is to let a
    • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @01:22PM (#14827837) Homepage
      I do most of my work on Windows systems, mostly security and integration-type stuff. But when it comes to consumer-level activities on Windows, I'm totally ignorant, because I have a Mac at home. I've been part of the rip-mix-burn culture for about 10 years now, and seriously, I've never had any trouble on my Mac, except for the few legitimately purchased iTMS tracks, which I've probably lost track of, and one day will probably give me a nasty DRM suprise. But those are the minority of my music.

      But I was shocked last year, when I had a freind show me her Dell laptop, with iTunes, and a couple of other music players, and the dozens of different formats of music she had, and how some songs would play on some players, but wouldn't even import to other players, some songs wouldn't play at all, and of course the thing was stuffed to the gills with spyware and adware. Stuff she had legitimately paid for, she couldn't use. Stuff that I've ripped contrary to RIAA's wishes (but not contrary to US fair use rights, in most cases), I can use just fine.

      So this is the thing. It's about usability. This is what the whole Personal Computer revolution is based on. The evolution from Mainframes and Minicomputers, running systems that only experts can use, to a Personal Computer, that the average joe can afford to buy, and figure out how to use. And the Copyright Fascists want to roll the industry back. People are paying thousands of dollars to buy computers, and finding out the hard way, that they can't use them in the way they want to or expect to - and in some cases, if they were technically savvy enough to figure out how the DRM was supposed to work, maybe they can get by. But more often then not, they've inadvertently moved something to another folder, reinstalled the OS to fix an adware or virus problem, or upgraded to a different music player, and all of a sudden, things don't work anymore, and all they know is they paid through the nose for music they can't listen to anymore.

      A big part of the explosion of the internet in the mid-to-late 1990's was because of broadband, and Napster. You think adoption rates are going to continue to expand when broadband companies are clamping down (tiered rates, privacy violations, crappy service, monopolistic pricing) and the Copyright Fascists are clamping down with DRM that makes things much harder to use? On the same vein, do you think that folks are going to be rushing out to pay $5000 for an HDTV, and $40 per title, to watch HD DVD content, only to find out that the key for their TV, or maybe their amp, or switch, has been revoked by the Copyright Fascists? This industry has thrived on ease of use. And they're ready to flush it down the toilet - because they believe they'll be able to make more money, when it's really about power and control, and they're going to find that their market is a lot smaller than they thought it was.
  • Perhaps it was just the spin the article's author took, but I was shocked at Chris Gorog's poor attitude. It's Microsoft, no it's the device players, no it's ... it's ... as Yoda said, "That is why you fail." ;-)

    Methinks it isn't the smartest business move to badmouth your "partners". I get the sense that he's just providing cover for the anticipated acquisition - or trying to provide a rationale for a prospective buyer. E.g., "no, really - it's not us, it's MS et al. Once they get their stuff together, N

  • They should do what Apple did! Spend years building a custom OS to sell music on.
  • "Microsoft's ecosystem of device manufacturers"

    Sounds less like an ecosystem, and more like the inside of a Big Brother house, or maybe some fungus growing at the foot of an iPod shaped monolith.
    • I think you should get moddd +99999 insightful because you made a "funny" about microsoft. That is how it works around here, right?
    • I believe they meant a economic ecosystem, since MS's DRM is set up to allow hardware and software manufacturers to compete with one another. By comparison the iTunes/iPod system is set up to allow Apple to sell you music.

      Of course, you could just buy and rip CDs (what I do) or buy from stores that do not sell DRMed content (I mean the non-Russian ones), but that tends to limit the range of music that they can sell.

      • I believe they meant a economic ecosystem,

        A marketshare pissing contest between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs should actually be called an "egosystem".

        • Heh. I often wonder if one or both of them (in particular Jobs, he always seemed the "nefarious" type) live on top of a dark, ominous hill in a tall, black building that gets hit by lightning more often than is statistically likely.

  • Any music download service that uses Windows Media is going to have precisely the same problem: Microsoft sets the limit on how good their user experience can possibly be, and that limit is far short of the expectations that Apple has set with the iTMS. Since the service simply can't be as good as the iTMS, the only way to compete is on price, and that's not sustainable unless you have volume.

    Really, the only hope for Napster, Rhapsody, and Real is to create a new DRM standard and try to convince the musi
    • "Really, the only hope for Napster, Rhapsody, and Real is to create a new DRM standard and try to convince the music companies and the hardware makers to adopt it. Microsoft's attempt to do so has already failed."

      I love this comment, along with all the pro-apple comments that are going on in this thread. But consider this: If Microsoft was the monopoly in this field and other companies (like the beloved Napster brand) were having trouble competing because they were having to "get by" without the Micros
      • They could compete with Itune by offering lower cost un-drmed song, and they would then usable on Ipod. Remmember user can convert the song to the format, and asd interroperatibility could napser do the same. they bitch simply because they want to sell the cake and eat it : use their own DRM and ride on the fact the Ipod is sold a lot.

        Also remmmeber Ipod is NOT a monopoly like MS is. Ipod came later to a market with a lot of player. Heck there is still a lot of concurrence. That the other suck does not ma
      • Apple isn't a monopoly. Go to the average computer store and you will have a hardtime buying another OS then MS. Hell you will even have a hardtime buying a PC without MS pre-installed/pre-payed.

        Now go into your average electronic store and OOOOOH, a dozen different brands of portable media players. Even different formats. Minidisc, AAC, MP3, WMA, CD, WAV.

        Yeah sure, the iPod's sell best BUT that is not what makes a monopoly. Nobody in their right mind would call Dell a monopoly even if they are one of the

  • I don't know about everyone else, but I associate Napster with free distribution of music. And ultimately music "piracy". The RIAA have successfully married the Napster name with illegal behavior. I'm sure the case is true for Joe Sixpack how just wants to download some old Hank Williams albums (or whatever).

    Apple's fortunes smiled on them because they provide end-to-end service. Content. A delivery mechanism. Output device. THEY HAD A STEP "B"!!!

    I suppose it helps that iTunes has always been a pay-to-play
    • I agree that Napster is indelibly associated with piracy, even though it's been years since such a thing existed. That funky headphone-wearing-cat will always be a pirate flag [] to those of us who were around for Napster's glory days. This new company's early advertising promised some badass 'tude, but couldn't match their ads and certainly couldn't live up to the original Napster. Their more recent advertising -- "Have everything - Own nothing" -- was just an annoying reminder that the real Napster is lon
  • they relied on Chris Gorog as CEO.

    You don't bet the fortunes of your company on performance on another company.

  • Doesn't fit your business model? Need M$ and a Digital Restrictions Malice? Labels won't license without it?

    So what?! It's not the fans' fault if the business model of music distribution is outdated/broken, and if the prescribed cures are even worse than the disease (or a disease in themselves)...

    As to the labels, faced with the choice of not reaching their audience anymore, or consenting to unencumbered formats (CD used to be one, remember?), how long do you think they'll prefer selling nothing at all

  • Our business does rely on Microsoft's digital rights management software and our business model also relies on Microsoft's ecosystem of device manufacturers."

    I blame Napster for relying on Microsoft's "DRM ecosystem".
  • This seems to be a serious case of the underpants gnomes' business plan. Ignore 80% of the potential market, ignore the lessons learnt by your main competitor (style and ease of use sell) and rely on companies with a proven record of producing poor-quality MP3 players to create your market. Somehow that leads to profit?

    Does anyone else think the choice of "PlaysForSure" as a name is pretty odd? "SurePlay" or something would have been better - the only people I have ever heard say "for sure" are German peopl
  • Are you reading this Mr. Gorog? I bet you are. Here's something you said: Mr Gorog insisted that despite Apple's dominance, the competitive landscape would be far different "in the next 12 to 24 months".

    The iTunes store and Apple have been around for some 5 years now. If anything, Apple's share has gotten bigger, not smaller, although many dozens of other devices and stores have come ..... and gone. Judging by the losses your crap show is making, you'll be one of those who will be gone in the the next 12 to
    • you'll be one of those who will be gone in the the next 12 to 24 months.

      Hey, maybe that's what he meant? Napster going out of business would be a change in the competitive landscape, albeit a very small one (to anyone who doesn't use Napster). I think that's quite a bit more likely to come true than Apple losing any significant part of the market.
  • The fact that Napster's business model means that as soon as you stop subscribing, all the music you've acquired is rendered inactive via a DRM timebomb, and just like that, it's as if you never had it at all. It's hardly surprising that people don't really see this as a compelling use of their disposable income.
    • Yeah, which is why everyone who has discovered to their utter dismay should:

      1) Strip out all the DRM using Windows Media cracks readily available.
      2) Cancel their subscription.
    • Yahoo's service is like $60 for 12 months of this. You can't transfer to players (that's another $60), but I don't really care. I use it as a service to preview what I want to buy.

      Plus now I can stream to my Roku from Yahoo, so I'm not investing big in it.
    • And that it won't work with all portable devices.

      And that the actual Napster client itself is far-and-away the most frustratingly poorly designed and poorly coded piece of software that I use on anywhere close to a regular basis. (Yay for "free" subscriptions though...)
  • Even if they lose some of the major studios, they should switch to unprotected MP3 VBR. (Or at worst use the Fraunhofer embedded serial number system). Without the need for DRM, they can play on all MP3 players, and all their technical difficulties and special drivers and DRM crap goes away.

    The DRM is a big turnoff, they don't have a trust relationship to customers that Apple has. As it stands you have to virtually marry an online music store (or at least enter into a long term relationship) so they can ope
    • This is +10 insightful, especially to all the other comments in this thread.
      Whoever follows this model, even with it's obvious "problems", would win over iTunes.
      So simple, and also the easiest to implement.
  • Blaming a bad business model on the tools.
  • Wow a company is blaming low music sales on something other then piracy
  • Fear not, Napster (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) * on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @07:04AM (#14825252) Homepage
    It could be worse, much worse! []

    As a funny side note:

    We appreciate your interest in the Connect music store, but our store currently only works with Internet Explorer 5.5 and above. You don't seem to be using that particular browser at the moment, so, unfortunately, we'll have to part ways until we support the browser you're currently using or you upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer. Please click the Download link below if you'd like to upgrade now..

    Well, Somehow I don't think so...

    • Re:Fear not, Napster (Score:3, Interesting)

      by killjoe ( 766577 )
      Better yet..

      This service is not currently available in your area.

      Please feel free to explore our Sony global sites for other exciting products and services.

      If you feel you have reached this page in error, please click here to contact our Customer Service department.

      So let me get this straight.

      Not available in more places then itunes.
      Not available to people who are not running IE.
      Incompatible with ipod.

      Yup, that'll catch on.
  • "Microsoft's ecosystem"

    I know it is not an ecosystem but the first word that popped in my head was 'dinosaur'
  • Maybe (Score:2, Funny)

    by mixenmaxen ( 857917 )
    they should revert to their old businessmodel...
  • Nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bloobloo ( 957543 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @07:44AM (#14825368) Homepage
    Napster is synonymous with free downloads. Not paid for ones.
  • Comforting as it may be to lay off blame to someone else, in business the only mistakes are your own. Strategically, relying on Microsoft's DRM was a huge mistake, as lots of people realized at the time. Moreover, laying off on Microsoft allows them to conveniently ignore the fact that subscription-based music services are a fundamentally b0rked idea while iTunes (and indeed remains up and running ('why rent when you can buy?' at its simplest). Napster's business model either ignored those fac
    • I think Napster's rent option is the one single best thing about the service. The real problems, imho are:

      1) Even when you do buy your options with what you can do with the song are incredibly limited.

      2) The application itself is gaudy and awkward to use.

      3) Incompatability with apple's ipod, the market leader in mp3 devices.

      4) A limited selection of mp3 players that work with it's "napster to go" rent service.

      One of my good friends uses napster and the napster to go service. The service its
  • Napster can't find a way to make money off of users' downloads. Film at 11.

    Seriously, who thinks that Napster (the big flash in the pan from several years ago) has such brand name recognition that a largely unconnected - and undistinguished - music business deserves to make money off the brand name years later?

    1. Facilitate massive copyright violation and get really popular
    2. Stop facilitating massive copyright violation
    3. ???
    4. Profit!!!
  • A (former) P2P company blaming a big DRM-heavy software company for it's lack of sales, talk about unusual.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @09:18AM (#14825727)
    The problem here is that there is no Open DRM standard. So any company building players and having a music system would love to use their own free DRM system that they don't have to pay royalties on. Apple succeeded in doing this. Everyone else decided to feed at the Microsoft booth. Instead of whining, Real, Napster et al, should band together and build an open royalty free DRM and give it two HW manufacturers and run their services on that, rather than complaining that the big two won't interoperate. Which Apple really can't do without cutting their own throat.

    Apple really needs to maintain Fairplay exclusively or cede yet another market to Microsoft. Remember when Palm had a PDA monopoly? Remember when Sony owned Video Games. Apple is just desperately trying to hang on to that one niche that Microsoft hasn't crushed with it's computing monopoly and mountain of Cash (Yet).

    Apple won't license fairplay for the same reason they don't license OSX, they make money selling hardware. What happens if they license fairplay?

    1: Stiffer competition in hardware sales, in fact Apple will find itself at a competitive disadvantage, as competing players will have fairplay and playforsure.

    2: Apple forced to license play4sure from microsoft. Because of the competitive disadvantage they would be in, Apple would be forced to licence ($$$) play4sure from Microsoft. Can you see how distastefull this is.

    Now where are we. Apple has now lost it's competitive advantage and was forced to pay money to arch rival computer monopolist microsoft, just to stay competitive. No wonder they won't open Fairplay up.

    So music services, quit your damn whining and make a free, open DRM solution available to both music services and HW companies and break free of the big two.

    • This has been brought up before, and I don't think that you'll ever see an "open" DRM system, because DRM is a fundamentally flawed and insecure concept, which relies on security through obscurity. 'Openness' of any sort is anathema to a DRM scheme, because it just means that it will be cracked more rapidly.

      Of course, they always seem to get cracked anyway, but the closed, obscure, undocumented systems usually stay 'secure' long enough for the manufacturer to sell them to the music labels and other content
    • Your analysis is flawed. Microsoft won't win this battle. There are two reasons for this.

      1) The DRM.

      I have a vested interest in getting a new iPod if I have an investment in iTMS music. Sure, you can transcode the music, but do you think that the senator with the iPod is going to know/care how to do that?

      2) The dock connector.

      I need an iPod if I want my car to work with my player. I need an iPod if I want all of those myriad of accessories to work with my player. Sure, I can use line out for all these
  • "A lot of people following this story in the media and investors ... are really focusing on the tree and are not stepping back and looking at the forest. To date, only 5 per cent of (music) sales have migrated digitally. We are in the very, very early days of this."

    Yeah, and if you keep making jabs at the sole provider of your technology, you might find yourself watching from the sidelines. Or, you might have to get in bed with RealNetworks, which is basically the same thing.
  • I think it is quite fitting that DRM is killing Napster. Napster made it's name by facilitating "piracy," sold out to the man and started selling heavily encumbered music, and is now dying for it. That's fitting, IMO. What would be nicer still, however, is if all this DRM shit would bring down the whole of the music industry.

    I can envision a new industry, where artists sign with small labels or produce their own music, and sell DRM free music on the web, and have small batches of CDs pressed at reasona

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @10:12AM (#14825998)
    The RIAA insisted on DRM. And Apple responded. Now Apple controls the market, much to the chagrins of the RIAA. But hey, they wanted DRM. And don't expect Apple to drop it anytime soon. They have discovered what DRM really means. Its not copy protection. Its vendor lock-in. If the RIAA really wants digital music to succeed, they need to drop DRM now. That will level the playing field both in online stores and digital players.
  • Smokers blame tobacco companies when they have health problems associated with smoking.

    You pick Microsoft with it's track record and what do you expect?
  • Why not have a music service where you pick your tunes, pay for them -- and have them delivered on plain old fashioned CD...just like if you got them in the store. Everyone wins.

    There is no DRM on an established media. The content providers are not taking any more risk than with the CD's they sell of the shelves at the record store or target. The customer owns the "master" and it is not tied to any particular technological device or operating system. They would be 99.9% compatible with anything that ca
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:26AM (#14826505) Journal
    First of all is the name. Yeah yeah napster was once a very famous name in certain circles. It even made the 'real' news but that was mostly AFTER it died. Problem? Well simply put, Napster was famous among 'pirates'. Then it died for several years and came back as something completly different. Napster was buggy, filled with crap, slow, often useless but free 'illegal' music. How does this sell you pay to listen music service? The whole brand name is worthless.

    Then their is the pricing model. Anyone with a brain knows that this is worse even then the bookclub model (I don't know if americans have it so let me explain, bookclubs sign people up on the street (nowadays mostly immigrants or other people who ain't very street smart) to be able to buy books/cds/dvds cheaply from their catalog. The scam? You have to buy 2 books every period minimum and the contract lasts for 2 years. Since their catalog is really limited you end up buying stuff you do not want).

    At least you get to keep the books from bookclub after you cancel (and paid for two years worth of stuff you don't want).You loose all your napster music if you ever cancel.

    You are also locked in to only using their service with hardware that supports their DRM. It only works on Windows. (iTunes works on Mac and Windows) Oh and the format used is often reviewed as the worst of the bunch.

    There is also no 'gifting' it. You can buy somebody some iTunes songs for their birthday. But napster? Oh, wow, one month of listening to music except I can't listen to them on my iPod, gee thanks.

    As for their complaint that MS software ain't up to it. Well fucking duh. NOBODY uses MS software. How do you think the whole winamp model works eh? Because MS own software is to crap for words.

    So you got a name that lost its meaning, trying to sell stuff people can't use, by artist people don't want, for a price people are not prepared to pay, on conditions that people don't like, using software people loathe, to be played on a tiny handfull of devices that people don't like.

    Gee, yeah that sounds like a good business plan to me.

    Then again all this MS funded fud is not meant to be a real business. MS doesn't have to own the online music store market. All it has to do is delay anyone else from doing so until inertia takes over.

    In fact that is what Napster seems to be banking on. That MS can pull another IE and that somehow their inferior product will become the norm.

    IE vs Netscape happened because IE was bundled. Perhaps MS should sponsor Dell to give a free MP3 player with their PC's? Pre loaded with Napster?

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.