Word is that Napster is dumping their desktop client and relaunching with a fully web based client as part of an effort to broaden their reach. Customers will be able to listen to their music over the web on any computer after signing in. The new web client will make it possible to join a slew of other online music services in creating embeddable music widgets to push their product and become accessible on web enabled devices.
However, the desktop client is only part of what’s holding the company back. Napster is still a subscription-centered service, which keeps them incompatible with the leading digital music player, the iPod (not a good idea, say industry experts). Consequently Napster has lagged behind Apple’s end to end iTunes system which reportedly controls 70% of the digital music market.
But the company is holding out for a glimmer of hope. Amazon has already crossed the chasm into open digital downloads. Christopher Allen, chief operating officer at Napster, forecasts that by the end of next year these DRM free MP3s will become standard. So far, only Universal Music Group and EMI Group sell music DRM free. However, with labels loving the iPod but hating the revenue split, other labels are sure to follow.
In other music news, Ars Technica is expecting iTunes to lower the price of DRM-free songs to $0.99. That’s still $0.10 more per song than Amazon is charging. Note our recently article on the inevitable march of recorded music towards free.