March 19, 2005 6:00 AM PST

Napster vs. iTunes: Let the contest begin

Napster's all-you-can-eat music subscription service now has three portable players to go with it. Can it challenge the Apple allure?
The New York Times

The story "Napster vs. iTunes: Let the contest begin" published March 19, 2005 at 6:00 AM is no longer available on CNET News.

Content from The New York Times expires after 7 days.

70 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Not as simple as you think
I evaluated the new Napster to go service before going after an iPod. I was extremely disappointed with Napster. I feel that an easy to use interface and simple set up out weigh a lot of the mess Napster has put out. I went out and bought a Zen player and was really excited until i tried to use it with one hand at the gym... I found that more than half of the music i wanted did not have transfer rights. I used it for about 10 days and took it back it back. I then purchased a iPod Shuffle and nothing could be better. I feel that you must balance $$ with smiles.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Chris Anderson gets it, all other media is delusional
"The choice facing fans is not how many songs to buy from iTunes and Rhapsody, but how many songs to buy rather than download for free from Kazaa and other peer-to-peer networks."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&#38;topic=tail&#38;topic_set=" target="_newWindow">http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&#38;topic=tail&#38;topic_set=</a>

Until this changes, there is no reason to even consider renting music, except to re-record them and cancel after the free month.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Not as simple as you think
I evaluated the new Napster to go service before going after an iPod. I was extremely disappointed with Napster. I feel that an easy to use interface and simple set up out weigh a lot of the mess Napster has put out. I went out and bought a Zen player and was really excited until i tried to use it with one hand at the gym... I found that more than half of the music i wanted did not have transfer rights. I used it for about 10 days and took it back it back. I then purchased a iPod Shuffle and nothing could be better. I feel that you must balance $$ with smiles.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Chris Anderson gets it, all other media is delusional
"The choice facing fans is not how many songs to buy from iTunes and Rhapsody, but how many songs to buy rather than download for free from Kazaa and other peer-to-peer networks."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&#38;topic=tail&#38;topic_set=" target="_newWindow">http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&#38;topic=tail&#38;topic_set=</a>

Until this changes, there is no reason to even consider renting music, except to re-record them and cancel after the free month.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
So with Napster to Go you're "Renting" the music??
That's stupid...I'll just stick with Ares and P2P until these music services get their priorties straight.
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So with Napster to Go you're "Renting" the music??
That's stupid...I'll just stick with Ares and P2P until these music services get their priorties straight.
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Watchout XM and Sirius
Ever since the Napster To Go service has been launched, the media has been touting it as a viable alternative to the iPod. Completely ignored in this cacophony is the impact of the Napster service on Sat Radio providers - aka Sirius and XM. Just like other people, I switched from traditional radio to XM to savor commercial-free music. I'm hardly interested in their other programming content. XM went ahead and bumped their subscription fees this month to 13 dollars a month. At that price point, I would be more interested in the napster model - at least, I have more control over what I hear. Sat Radio subscribers also do not own their tunes. And most of them subscribe to listen to the music - not Howard Stern!! Just my 2 cents...
Posted by shantanu_b9 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
howard?
stern isn't on satellite yet. Of course people won't be paying to listen to him. Thats next January.
Posted by (20 comments )
Link Flag
FM/AM is the one who needs to watch out
True, the $ difference is $2 per month, but Napster just gives you music, whereas XM/Sirius give you much much more contents. Furthermore you can just go into your car, turn on your XM/Sirius receiver and listen. Napster? Well, please transfer your music first, THEN go into the car and listen. Which is easier?

I really think AM/FM will have a hard time to survive after all these competitions rush in. Many people I know now listen to their iPods or XM/Sirius in the car. Who cares about AM/FM anymore? :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
Watchout XM and Sirius
Ever since the Napster To Go service has been launched, the media has been touting it as a viable alternative to the iPod. Completely ignored in this cacophony is the impact of the Napster service on Sat Radio providers - aka Sirius and XM. Just like other people, I switched from traditional radio to XM to savor commercial-free music. I'm hardly interested in their other programming content. XM went ahead and bumped their subscription fees this month to 13 dollars a month. At that price point, I would be more interested in the napster model - at least, I have more control over what I hear. Sat Radio subscribers also do not own their tunes. And most of them subscribe to listen to the music - not Howard Stern!! Just my 2 cents...
Posted by shantanu_b9 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
howard?
stern isn't on satellite yet. Of course people won't be paying to listen to him. Thats next January.
Posted by (20 comments )
Link Flag
FM/AM is the one who needs to watch out
True, the $ difference is $2 per month, but Napster just gives you music, whereas XM/Sirius give you much much more contents. Furthermore you can just go into your car, turn on your XM/Sirius receiver and listen. Napster? Well, please transfer your music first, THEN go into the car and listen. Which is easier?

I really think AM/FM will have a hard time to survive after all these competitions rush in. Many people I know now listen to their iPods or XM/Sirius in the car. Who cares about AM/FM anymore? :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
you forgot that subscriptions have long been in existence
you forgot that subscription services have long been in
existence

long before iTunes was ever developed... they failed then
because of why they fail now... people do not want to rent
music... they pay monthly fees for TV because the content
is different everyday... they do not pay monthly fees for
music because the content is the same and they already
own that very same content that the people want to rent to
them....

you also failed to point out that after you own your music
for just a couple more years you will have paid less than
napster's subscription service....

and every month after, your price will continue to fall per
song per month, where Napster you continue to rack up an
ever higher price for the music you do keep.... a never
ending higher price...

people will sign up for Napster for a free month, then rip
off as much music as they can, then shut down their
subscription....

why music labels allow this type of service is because they
don't understand how easy it is to rip the music off from
Napster...

people can rip the music off from iTunes too, (no DRM),
but since iTunes gives most users every possibility to Burn
as many copies as they want and listen to it anyway they
want anyway, there really is no burning need to rip iTunes
DRM music to other formats anyway....

another thing you missed in your price comparison is this:

the music labels are going to figure out that Napster is not
giving them the bang for the buck that they need... and
they are going to either raise rates, or just plain cancel it as
an experiment after the two years are up on the contracts
Napster has in place...

i can just see the lawsuits now when Napster is forced to
raise prices in two years..... or the contracts are cancelled...

will it be worth your money then when Napster raises rates
in two years?

jon.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with jon
If Napster is going to charge for every CD that I burn, that cost
adds up pretty quickly. I have a PowerBook G4 and have been a
member of the iTunes movement for at least 2 years now, and I
have burned songs onto CDs multiple times. iTunes allows you
to do this. Once you buy a song on iTunes, it's yours to do
whatever you want with it. Napster racks up revenue everytime
you use their song. This is yet another marketing trap, but I feel
that Mac and iTunes users will wise up, do their research, and
make the correct decision on which service to use.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
you forgot that subscriptions have long been in existence
you forgot that subscription services have long been in
existence

long before iTunes was ever developed... they failed then
because of why they fail now... people do not want to rent
music... they pay monthly fees for TV because the content
is different everyday... they do not pay monthly fees for
music because the content is the same and they already
own that very same content that the people want to rent to
them....

you also failed to point out that after you own your music
for just a couple more years you will have paid less than
napster's subscription service....

and every month after, your price will continue to fall per
song per month, where Napster you continue to rack up an
ever higher price for the music you do keep.... a never
ending higher price...

people will sign up for Napster for a free month, then rip
off as much music as they can, then shut down their
subscription....

why music labels allow this type of service is because they
don't understand how easy it is to rip the music off from
Napster...

people can rip the music off from iTunes too, (no DRM),
but since iTunes gives most users every possibility to Burn
as many copies as they want and listen to it anyway they
want anyway, there really is no burning need to rip iTunes
DRM music to other formats anyway....

another thing you missed in your price comparison is this:

the music labels are going to figure out that Napster is not
giving them the bang for the buck that they need... and
they are going to either raise rates, or just plain cancel it as
an experiment after the two years are up on the contracts
Napster has in place...

i can just see the lawsuits now when Napster is forced to
raise prices in two years..... or the contracts are cancelled...

will it be worth your money then when Napster raises rates
in two years?

jon.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with jon
If Napster is going to charge for every CD that I burn, that cost
adds up pretty quickly. I have a PowerBook G4 and have been a
member of the iTunes movement for at least 2 years now, and I
have burned songs onto CDs multiple times. iTunes allows you
to do this. Once you buy a song on iTunes, it's yours to do
whatever you want with it. Napster racks up revenue everytime
you use their song. This is yet another marketing trap, but I feel
that Mac and iTunes users will wise up, do their research, and
make the correct decision on which service to use.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Nothing prevents Apple from offering this service.
If it succeeds, if it even gains Napster a couple of points in
market share, then Apple could duplicate it. Do you doubt that
they've considered it? Do you doubt that they've asked
themselves how to set up the technology if necessary?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nothing prevents Apple from offering this service.
If it succeeds, if it even gains Napster a couple of points in
market share, then Apple could duplicate it. Do you doubt that
they've considered it? Do you doubt that they've asked
themselves how to set up the technology if necessary?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Napster clunky and "the soul."
I tried this service and to say it's unstable is an understatement.
It was practically unusable. Many tracks were buy only and the
interface was convoluted and frustrating. I then went back to
iTunes and it felt like I was transported to a Bahama island with
pina colada in hand. What a difference.

Anyway, The main problem with renting music is this:

People have soul.

Albums they buy through the years are markers in their lives.
For bettter or for worse, that cheesy band you bought in 1988
still says something about who you are and where you've been.
Renting music and you're pretty much walking around with
memories SOMEONE ELSE can delete at any time.
That is just plain bad. What about that record you were listening
to when you met that special someone? Better not be late on that
bill or that memory is GONE.
People just don't like something so personal to them to be
controlled by "the man."
Renting sounds good on paper, but the fact is that half of the
songs you load up on a player is from your own collection to
begin with. The other half? Well, if you're like me, it will be stuff
I've chosen because it will be something today AND tomorrow.
Posted by boris Bengin (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're 100% Right
I was wondering how I can explain it but it is about the memories... about soul!

I was over at my Sister's home recently when she asked me to play a few of my songs on my iPod. Van Halen came up and the stories of the 80's poured out. My mullet, my demin jacket. I then jumped to my Box Set of the Police and started to talk about her.

By the way, I have the entire Van Halen collection (not the recent ones cause I think they have mentally lost it!). I paid Tower Records once for each CD and not a penny more. At the end of the month they have never called me to return the CDs and if they did I would expect 100% of my money back.

I agree with many children listening to stuff for a month before moving on but they are just now creating their memories. In 20 years, my nephew will be calling my son to take a stroll down memory lane because he found a CD of Britney Spears and my brother still has a working CD player.
Posted by JohnNz (4 comments )
Link Flag
Napster clunky and "the soul."
I tried this service and to say it's unstable is an understatement.
It was practically unusable. Many tracks were buy only and the
interface was convoluted and frustrating. I then went back to
iTunes and it felt like I was transported to a Bahama island with
pina colada in hand. What a difference.

Anyway, The main problem with renting music is this:

People have soul.

Albums they buy through the years are markers in their lives.
For bettter or for worse, that cheesy band you bought in 1988
still says something about who you are and where you've been.
Renting music and you're pretty much walking around with
memories SOMEONE ELSE can delete at any time.
That is just plain bad. What about that record you were listening
to when you met that special someone? Better not be late on that
bill or that memory is GONE.
People just don't like something so personal to them to be
controlled by "the man."
Renting sounds good on paper, but the fact is that half of the
songs you load up on a player is from your own collection to
begin with. The other half? Well, if you're like me, it will be stuff
I've chosen because it will be something today AND tomorrow.
Posted by boris Bengin (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're 100% Right
I was wondering how I can explain it but it is about the memories... about soul!

I was over at my Sister's home recently when she asked me to play a few of my songs on my iPod. Van Halen came up and the stories of the 80's poured out. My mullet, my demin jacket. I then jumped to my Box Set of the Police and started to talk about her.

By the way, I have the entire Van Halen collection (not the recent ones cause I think they have mentally lost it!). I paid Tower Records once for each CD and not a penny more. At the end of the month they have never called me to return the CDs and if they did I would expect 100% of my money back.

I agree with many children listening to stuff for a month before moving on but they are just now creating their memories. In 20 years, my nephew will be calling my son to take a stroll down memory lane because he found a CD of Britney Spears and my brother still has a working CD player.
Posted by JohnNz (4 comments )
Link Flag
Why one OR the other?
This is kind of like movie subscriptions. Netfiix is alive and going great, because it allows you to try a lot of different things with minimal investment, and you can of course purchase the stuff you really like. People are too trapped in the rent OR download mindset. Folks who rent music will purchase the stuff they like, just like NetFlix. It simply allows them to try a lot more stuff, without the need to purchase.
Should the price come down, the subscription model should work great for both consumers and companies.
Posted by catchall (245 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why one OR the other?
This is kind of like movie subscriptions. Netfiix is alive and going great, because it allows you to try a lot of different things with minimal investment, and you can of course purchase the stuff you really like. People are too trapped in the rent OR download mindset. Folks who rent music will purchase the stuff they like, just like NetFlix. It simply allows them to try a lot more stuff, without the need to purchase.
Should the price come down, the subscription model should work great for both consumers and companies.
Posted by catchall (245 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Let's see...
Okay, you have Napster. 15 bucks a month, unlimited downloads in WMA, full songs. iTunes, completley FREE, has 30 second clips of every song in AAC (MP4) format.

You have to pay for every time you burn a song to CD with Napster. At 10 songs that's about 10 bucks, plus the monthly 15 dollars rent on top. So, you're paying 25 bucks for that CD right there.

With iTunes, you pay for the songs you want, and burn them to CD an infinite amount of times, for free. 10 tracks= $10.00

With Napster, ending your subscription yields the locking, or deletion of every song you downloaded and didn't pay to burn to disc.

With no contract from iTunes, you own the songs forever, no deletion necessary.

Yeah, like this subscription BS is oging to get my hard-earned cash. Get real. And like I want to listen to WMA anyway. It's ALMOST as bad as Real's format in quality.

Oh, and let's not forget the clunky, ugly, and shoddy interfaces of players that AREN'T iPods. Hell, my 2nd Gen iPod is STILL better than any of the other players out there that don't have Apple's symbol on them.

Apple has the right idea, which is also why they have 3 big-name computer makers BEGGING to use OS X isntead of Windows. Heh, just goes to show that innovation and user-friendliness, AND security go a long, long way.
Posted by (461 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Let's see...
Okay, you have Napster. 15 bucks a month, unlimited downloads in WMA, full songs. iTunes, completley FREE, has 30 second clips of every song in AAC (MP4) format.

You have to pay for every time you burn a song to CD with Napster. At 10 songs that's about 10 bucks, plus the monthly 15 dollars rent on top. So, you're paying 25 bucks for that CD right there.

With iTunes, you pay for the songs you want, and burn them to CD an infinite amount of times, for free. 10 tracks= $10.00

With Napster, ending your subscription yields the locking, or deletion of every song you downloaded and didn't pay to burn to disc.

With no contract from iTunes, you own the songs forever, no deletion necessary.

Yeah, like this subscription BS is oging to get my hard-earned cash. Get real. And like I want to listen to WMA anyway. It's ALMOST as bad as Real's format in quality.

Oh, and let's not forget the clunky, ugly, and shoddy interfaces of players that AREN'T iPods. Hell, my 2nd Gen iPod is STILL better than any of the other players out there that don't have Apple's symbol on them.

Apple has the right idea, which is also why they have 3 big-name computer makers BEGGING to use OS X isntead of Windows. Heh, just goes to show that innovation and user-friendliness, AND security go a long, long way.
Posted by (461 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry, I think you're way off just like the Napster CEO.
I wrote this last week and think that 99% of the music listening
population agree with me.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://homepage.mac.com/robjones/blog/C1756633534/" target="_newWindow">http://homepage.mac.com/robjones/blog/C1756633534/</a>
E284286377/index.html
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry, I think you're way off just like the Napster CEO.
I wrote this last week and think that 99% of the music listening
population agree with me.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://homepage.mac.com/robjones/blog/C1756633534/" target="_newWindow">http://homepage.mac.com/robjones/blog/C1756633534/</a>
E284286377/index.html
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RIAA and Money
A few questions. How much money will any artist ever see from
any rental program? Why do you think EMI's Adam Klein
supports rental programs? Do you think Adam Klein would write
a check to any artist from rental payments? Where would this
lead to in the future? Will it be this easy to get the songs you like
in the future?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RIAA and Money
A few questions. How much money will any artist ever see from
any rental program? Why do you think EMI's Adam Klein
supports rental programs? Do you think Adam Klein would write
a check to any artist from rental payments? Where would this
lead to in the future? Will it be this easy to get the songs you like
in the future?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fortune cookie says:
Financial prosperity is coming your way! Many surprises await
the old monoculture.
Posted by halesgarcia (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fortune cookie says:
Financial prosperity is coming your way! Many surprises await
the old monoculture.
Posted by halesgarcia (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WMA vs M4P
I agree with an earlier poster's comments... WMA just sounds
BAD to me when compared to M4P. I'm not a audio guru, but has
anyone done an analysis, comparing the 2 formats, to see which
one more accurately reproduces the original recordings?
Just asking, but the same song, downloaded from Napster,
sounds worse to me than getting it from iTunes.
Thanks.
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WMA vs M4P
I agree with an earlier poster's comments... WMA just sounds
BAD to me when compared to M4P. I'm not a audio guru, but has
anyone done an analysis, comparing the 2 formats, to see which
one more accurately reproduces the original recordings?
Just asking, but the same song, downloaded from Napster,
sounds worse to me than getting it from iTunes.
Thanks.
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Napster is better. Statics speak out.
"The competition begins"
That is quite true!

Itunes- 1$ per song, after downloaded and paid its yours for life.

Napster- $15 monthly for as long as you want to have the song digitally rented out to you.

So this media targets 15-25 year olds. If a 15 year old started out downloading music with itunes and downloaded a total of 10,000 songs for 10 years (reaching 25) that is $10,000 dollars or $1 per song.

If the kid put a month subscription on that for 10 years at 15$ a month downloading 10,000 songs thats 12x10= 120x15 = 1,800

Say a kid starting at 15, lives up to 85. Having the napster service for 70 years. 12x70= 840x15= $12,600. Given the Itunes person lives up to 85 and started at 15 as well granted Itunes only paied 10000, Saving 2,600 dollars. But the thing is!

Having Unlimited downloads Why would you stop at 10,000 when already the service offers 1.3 million songs. So taking that into factor Napster is better because they can download any amount of songs.

The only other thing is it more or less depends on the person. One could get there 1000 songs, spend 1000 dollars and keep it like that vs having to spend 12,600 for 70 years of serivce for those 1000 songs.

So basically statically speaking napster is better if you utilized the feature ( MUSIC JUNKIE). If you were only planning to download just a few songs. Stick with Itunes to save money in the long run
Posted by Mitchgo05 (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your numbers are skewed.
Look at my post above yours. Your saying that There's unlimited downloads a month for 15.00. That's great, but you can't burn any of those songs off of 15.00, and their in WMA format, which, is horrible.

Who wants to pay to burn their music to disc EVERY SINGLE TIME? IF it's you, then I'm sorry, but you're just as skewed as your numbers.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.