Even though its Super Bowl ads were among the more forgettable pitches Sunday night, a new and not-so-naughty Napster (NASDAQ:NAPS) is definitely back. Last night, the company behind the brand that ushered in the era of illegal music downloads reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $0.36 a share on $12.1 million in revenue.

Granted, the profit was strictly due to the one-time gain the company recorded after it sold off its Roxio computer software business to Sonic Solutions (NASDAQ:SNIC) back in December. Napster actually lost more money in its continuing namesake digital music business -- $16.9 million -- than it produced in subscription revenue.

You may be ready to shake your head at the company's decision to blow through about a month and change of its revenue to run a pair of ads during the big football game. But before you do, let's give the company and its reinvention process some credit. It closed out December with 270,000 subscribers, and its portable "Napster To Go" service that launched earlier this month is bound to draw fans of the digital-music buffet who like to take their streams with them. RealNetworks' (NASDAQ:RNWK) Rhapsody service, in contrast, is cheaper but still PC-shackled.

The company is aiming at all of the right targets. Its ambitious college program has helped sign up 44,000 students. It has also teamed up with Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) to offer an attractively priced package that bundles its digital music service with Blockbuster's online DVD-rental program.

Since Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) seem satisfied with selling songs individually or as a part of full albums, Napster's portable smorgasbord may give it an edge -- as long as folks are willing to ditch their iPods. That's a major hurdle. Apple's iTunes download store is successful because it's the one source of legal iPod tunes -- and Napster's feast isn't compatible with the iPod palate.

While Napster's service is compatible with many of the other portable MP3 players, such as those from Dell Computer (NASDAQ:DELL) and Creative, you try telling Veruca Salt that she can't have an iPod now, daddy.

Napster is looking to produce revenue of $14 million this quarter. That will be another big step forward for the company, though it will still lag behind in a race that Apple is winning by a mile. In Napster's defense, it has built up quite the war chest. It now has $4.39 a share in cash and investments, including its stake in Sonic Solutions. Then again, that also pales when compared with Apple's cash-rich coffers.

So Napster won't have an easy fight, but the brand that earned notoriety playing it naughty with illegal file swapping deserves a chance to see what it can do when it plays nice.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz likes the idea of the digital music buffet -- only he never quite knows when he's full. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.