Wednesday, July 27, 2005

XM and Napster

I haven't had any satellite-radio updates in a while, and since there's not much happening anywhere else, here's something from Yahoo!:

XM Satellite Radio and digital music provider Napster Inc. on Wednesday said they would launch a service that lets XM subscribers buy music they hear on XM radio, sending Napster shares up 7 percent. The agreement comes one day after XM, which leads the nascent pay-radio market over rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., said Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. would later this year sell two miniature music players that also receive satellite radio stations.

The plan calls for the joint launch of "XM + Napster" in the fourth quarter of 2005 in conjunction with the availability of new XM/MP3 digital music players that let users bookmark songs they hear on the radio for future purchases online. After the MP3 player is connected to a personal computer, the new service will match the marked XM titles with songs in Napster's catalog so that they can be purchased.

"We believe this partnership provides Napster with a new avenue for both increased a la carte (digital music) track purchase and subscriber growth," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note to clients.
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This may be true, but does someone who talks about "a la carte track purchases" really know his customer? I don't know what Mr. Munster has to do with either company, but someone needs to work on their terminology. One of the reasons Apple is so successful is that their products get cool names, or at least ones that don't call to mind the school cafeteria. Apple also does a good job of appearing to love music, whereas the people who run Napster give the impression that they would be just as happy selling ping-pong paddles if they could make money. Of course, both companies care about profits, but Apple at least makes an effort to pretend that they have a little bit of soul. And Napster has the added burden of having changed from an awesome free service to a suckier one you have to pay for.

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