Napster's launch of a new music-download service, called "Napster To Go," is being touted today in the Wall Street Journal as "a completely different model for buying and playing music."
Napster's "new model" is indeed completely different from Apple's 99c download model: instead of charging per song, the Napster user "rents" all the songs they want, as long as they pay a $14.95 monthly fee. When they stop paying the rent, they stop getting access to the songs.
States the Journal, this is "a model that Apple can't match today."
Unforunately for Napster, Apple has no need to "match" the "Napter To Go" model, because Napster To Go will not ever, in my opinion, go anywhere.
But don't take my word.
Go to a college campus. Ask a random student how many songs they have on their iPod. The student will probably say something between 200 and 2,000. I am not making this up. Students take their music seriously.
Then ask how many of those songs have been purchased from iTunes. They will smile, wrinkle their brow, look up at the ceiling and ponder this, and then probably say something like maybe 1%.
Yes, 1%. Not half, not a quarter, not even 10%. Kids do not download music from iTunes for 99c a pop. They burn compact discs already in their collection, they burn friends' cds, they swap files.
So this notion that an online rental service for music is far more cost-effective for the average iPod user than iTunes itself, is hokum.
Kids wanted their MTV, and they want their iPods, and they are not going to pay $14.95 a month or $14.95 a year, for that matter, to rent something they can download for free.
I Am Not Making This Up.
In memory of Henry M. Matthews, February 26, 1926-March 17, 2005.