Napster Offers Digital Player With Music Subscription Service - InformationWeek

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Napster Offers Digital Player With Music Subscription Service

Napster will give a digital player to people who purchase a three-month subscription to its mobile music service.

Napster Inc., which recently reported a drop in subscribers, said Tuesday it would give a digital player to people who purchase a three-month subscription to its mobile music service.

Besides offering a 512MB MP3 player at no charge, the Los Angeles-based company is selling a 1GB player for $50 to new subscribers of its Napster To Go service, which costs $14.95 a month for unlimited downloads from the company's 2 million-plus music library. The service allows subscribers to play tunes on a PC or portable player, but they can't be burned to CD.

Napster faces tough competition in the music download market. Apple Computer's iPod, which is tightly integrated with the computer maker's iTunes music store, accounts for three quarters of the digital players sold. Microsoft, on the other hand, plans to launch its own player and music store by the end of the year.

In its first fiscal quarter ended June 30, Napster reported that the number of subscribers fell 7 percent to 512,000. Napster hopes to boost the number of subscribers in the coming months with its free player offering, and the recent launch of a free, ad-supported version of its subscription service.

The 1GB portable player includes an LCD screen to view photos and video, an FM tuner and support for MP3 music files, including those with Microsoft's copyright-protection technology.

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