Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Napster: Still going, apparently

As Pete Doherty is finding out, the worst thing about being a reformed reprobate is that nobody finds you half as interesting. Napster could tell him a thing or two about that, of course.

They've just launched version 4 which we were going to have a look at - except, if you follow the 'napster US' link on the UK homepage, it takes you to the .com site, which registers you've got a UK-based IP address, and so bounces you straight back to the .co.uk site.

Apparently, then, the big change this time is that the new Napster works through a web-browser and requires no download, opening the service up to be ignored by Mac and Linux users now, as well as the current non-user base of PC owners. (Global subscriptions are a little over 750,000).

It's not all bad - the inclusion of historic Billboard chart data makes the thing a little like an interactive, US version of Guinness Hit Singles, for example, but that feels more like a feature that is going to please the converted rather than drive take-up (and we wonder if the cost of purchasing that data will recoup in anything other than the very, very long run).

But the clunks are louder than the applause. Most notably, the new Napster offers music videos. Only... erm, you can't take them with you on your mobile device.