||Napster and Samsung announce new MP3 player|
By Eliot Van Buskirk
September 16, 2003
Today in New York City, Samsung and Napster (a subsidiary of Roxio) announced their joint plans to create a formidable challenger to Apple's high-flying iPod/iTunes combination. The cobranded Samsung/Napster device will likely display the infamous Napster logo prominently--reason enough for some digital-music fans to make the purchase. In addition, the device's box will have a sticker on it that says Napster compatible, implying that we can expect other MP3 players to work with Napster 2.0 as well. Regardless, Samsung's will be the first.
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Roxio's Napster 2.0 will be a centralized service such as Apple iTunes, rather than peer-to-peer service such as its predecessor, the original Napster.
Napster 2.0 will share little with its revolutionary predecessor, which is to be expected considering that the online-music landscape has changed quite a bit in the past five years. Music files downloaded from Napster will be secure, just like those currently offered by existing services iTunes and BuyMusic. However, Napster will offer 500,000 songs out of the gate--about twice what those competing services launched with. Consumers will be able to sign up for a year's service (which will include unlimited downloading and burning) or purchase songs à la carte or by the album (no pricing as of yet).
As mentioned above, songs downloaded from Napster 2.0 will play on the new Samsung-Napster device--something that BuyMusic has so far failed to do with its secure WMA files (even using the Creative models it sells alongside its music catalog). The new player will not be officially unveiled until mid-October, but we suspect that it will closely resemble the Yepp YP-900 (see image to the left), an as yet unreleased hard drive player that Samsung is keeping in the wings. If so, Napster users are in for a treat; early YP-900 specs included a 10GB hard drive, FM reception and broadcasting (for wireless playback over car and home stereos), a fast USB 2.0 connection, and line-in recording.
In mid-November, Samsung and Napster may announce the device formerly known as the Yepp YP-900 (not yet shipping).
Only time can tell whether the Samsung/Napster romance will blossom, but the early signs look promising. We just hope the song pricing is fair and that the player will be able to handle unsecured files as well as the secured ones Napster 2.0 will offer.