Sunday, February 13, 2005

Dear Napster

I just don't believe Napster to go is all that useful. I'll admit, I used the P2P networks back in the good old days. I typically downloaded tracks that I didn't have at the time (i.e. oldies from my dad's collection), tracks that were impossible to find in the US and well songs from my CDS (since importing your CDs was a pretty difficult thing to do back then). Lastly I downloaded the one hit wonder type pop songs.

So of my four main uses, music download services only solve one of the problems

1. The tracks from my Dad's collection. Well now he either imports them for me, and I hop on our home network with my ibook when I visit to grab the tracks, or i bring my ibook and import the CD myself, or I burn a CD. Easy fix.

2. Well now I can import my CDs pretty easily, so this problem is solved.

3. Those rare import tracks. Well once in a blue moon they are on the iTunes store, but more likely I need to order the disk online or pay big bucks at the Virgin Megastore.

4. The one hit wonders: this is where iTunes excels. Now I can download the one good Usher, Britney Spears etc song, without having to buy the crappy CD (since singles are a thing of the past).

In any given month there are maybe 3 of these type of tracks, and well maybe a CD I would like to own in its entirely about every other month. So I will do the math: I buy 6-8 CDs per year @ $14 each (well because I refuse to pay more). so that works out to be about $115 per year in CDs and $36 in music downloads. So there is my $150 in music per year. At the end of it, I own a couple of CDs and about 30 downloaded tracks. If I had Napster-to-go, at the end of the year I wouldn't have anything. Some pretty crappy math if you ask me.

So Napster, it is time for a different approach. I think the PVR devices are useless, because the most important question hasn't been answered, where do you get the movies? Here is where the to-go model would work perfectly. I am still not sold on these PVRs, but with a bigger screen, or better form factor I might consider it. In fact, if I could play my PVR on my tv like an ipod photo, it becomes infinitely more useful.

But we still haven't answered the question, what about the movies. Napster please change your Napster to go to Movies-to-go. We already rent movies from Blockbuster. Most movies have the sort of limited shelf life that a download and expire model would support. Here you would go head to head with Netflix, Blockbuster and even Tivo. but this would be just as good as tivo to go. The value proposition is the same as Netflix'.

Imagine this, 30 minutes after your favorite show goes off the air, you can download it to your PVR and hook it up to your TV. Then watch it the next day on the train, or at your friends house with no cable. Movie night would be great, load up all your favorite movies and bring them to your friends place, or your hotel when you travel. If you rent 5 movies a month or pay for Netflix, you could pallet the $15 a month for movie and tv rentals. And this is something I would support wholeheartedly. (Since I still can't program my VCR and tape all the shows I miss due to scheduling conflicts)

Napster are you listening? I think you would have a lot more takers and no iPod conpetition. And well this could also be done by Apple. Whoever gets it first will have the first mass market v-pod. Show us the movies!


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