It wasn't that long ago that Napster was known for being a renegade, a place to hoist the virtual Jolly Roger and pirate music with wild abandon. Now, Napster, which has since gone legit through parent Roxio
This time there's no pirating involved; somebody's going to pay, and one might imagine quite a hit to Roxio's wallet to run such a promotion. It will give away the MP3 players, a $130 value, in exchange for signing for a year's service, a $120 subscription price.
Obviously, Napster's got it bad. Online music's becoming a mosh pit of heavyweight rivalry, from all sides and all walks of corporate life. Apple
Who else threatens Napster? Sony
Judging by the iPod's success, people are paying up for what they perceive as quality, trendiness, and style. It makes me question the wisdom of Roxio's promotion, which seems a desperate move to grab some market share from its big, bad rivals. While a free MP3 player may attract some bargain shoppers who are dipping their toes into digital downloads, whether music junkies will want to pay the $120 lump sum to commit for an entire year is another question.
After all, the a la carte option that Apple and Sony both adhere to has been working well with consumers. And it's my guess the musical public might not want to commit to Napster with the varying choices around.
Given all the competition as well as the continuing evolution of the industry and increasing consumer adoption, it's hard to pick any winners. However, I have particular doubts about Roxio and its Napster. While Napster did revolutionize the music industry by giving away music for free, this most recent move seems more desperate than daring; its freewheeling days are likely over.
Do you love music, no matter what the medium? Talk to other Fools on the Music and Musicians discussion board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.