Napsters Free Music Player Deal

june 17, 2004

Napster is giving out free MP3/WMA players to those who sign up for a year subscription. Check out the deal: If you sign up for a year subscription to Napster, you will get a Rio Chiba (128MB solid state player with SD/MMC expansion) for free. Or if you subscribe for a year and pay an extra $80, you can get the Rio Nitrus (1.5GB Cornice harddrive-based player). It is funny to see Napster running this type of promotion. For Apple, people are flocking to pay at least $299 for the iPod and use iTunes Music Store. Here Napster has to give out free music players to entice people to use their service. I am going to say it again, I think that subscription-based online music services like Napster will not survive. This model of "selling" music just does not appeal to consumers for the fact that the music is rented and cannot be kept. Of course Napster still sells music, but that only goes to confuse the model from a consumer's stand point -- hey, am I renting the music or am I buying the music? If I just want to listen to streaming music, I have to pay for that service. If I want to listen to music at the gym with my portable player, I have to pay to purchase that music. And I think that Napster, even though it sports some popularity because of its community features that others do not have, will not be as popular because it does not have the iPod. Apple was smart in creating the hardware first, then wrapping a service around it -- instead of what Napster seems to be doing, creating a service then seeking out hardware.

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