Microsoft tries to push WMA by propping up beleaguered Napster

“In the battle over digital music, Microsoft may be forced to play kingmaker – or else be reduced to a pawn. There are dozens of online music stores that back Microsoft’s digital format, but they may be too fragmented to successfully dent the lead of Apple’s iTunes software, analysts said. So Microsoft has been quietly shifting some of its marketing muscle to back a few of the rival stores – particularly Napster,” Stephen Lynch reports for The New York Post.

“‘They certainly don’t want to see [Apple] become so dominant it becomes the de facto service,’ said Michael Goodman, an analyst with the Yankee Group. ‘Microsoft doesn’t really care how many stores there are, but it does care that they’re established.’ Microsoft talks up the diversity of its format, called ‘.wma,’ noting that more than 60 digital-music players support it,” Lynch reports.

“But that very diversity may be hurting .wma, as marketing efforts are disjointed compared to Apple. There are a dozen online music stores supporting the .wma format, but they command only about 30 percent total market share, according to estimates from Nielsen SoundScan,” Lynch reports.

“‘One advantage for Apple is that they can market the iPod and iTunes together,’ said Laura Goldberg, chief operating officer for Napster, which is owned by Roxio. Apple also benefits, marketing-wise, from its partnership with Hewlett-Packard, which is particularly grating for Napster. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Roxio was in talks with H-P to put the Napster logo on new computers, but then H-P unceremoniously returned a $250,000 check and signed a deal with Apple instead.”

“‘The iPod is the 800-pound gorilla,’ Goodman said. The success of the iPod Mini, and the launch of an H-P-branded iPod in the spring will only continue Apple’s roll, he said. ‘Until the [.wma] players gain a large installed base, Napster will have problems,'” Lynch reports.

Full article here.


  1. I do not want to see Apple buy Napster. I prefer MS to infuse millions of dollars into the hemorrhaging body of Napster. This will divert precious resources from MS and further delay the release of Longhorn. In the end, patient �Nap� will mercifully expire with the final tune a solo bugle rendition of �Taps�. Bill Gates will then be cursing his misfortune and deep in his heart wish that he had a Mac.

  2. awwwww…………..poor micro$oft………poor slackster..errrr napster

    meat of moose……. BG probably does have a G5 with an iPod attached hidden in his secret lair that he uses when he isn’t playing with his Star Trek action figures! (no offense meant to any trekkies of course) ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  3. bill gates already has a bunch of g5’s there are pictures all over the net of a shipment being brought in. in fact on there website untill recently you could do a view source and it would say built on a mac. proof gates hates his own machines!!! now what gates does want is a nifty lil 40 gig ipod but he prolly has those too!

  4. IMO, the longer napster is around bragging about being the best of the “pc-only” stores, the better it make iTMS look. Prop ’em up bill, I made the right choice. Pepsi anyone?

  5. “‘One advantage for Apple is that they can market the iPod and iTunes together,’ said Laura Goldberg, chief operating officer for Napster, which is owned by Roxio.
    Does that mean that the Napster player complete with the little kitty kat with headphones is not compatible with Napster the music service?

  6. “Napster installed in every computer with win xp+ by the end of the year and you will have a hard time removing it just like IE!”

    If they could get away with it I’m sure they would. I have a feeling they’ll try some other dirty tactics first that won’t draw the attention of the watchdogs. M$ is NOT going to play nice if they see WMA being pushed out. The whole WiMP platform is part of their big game plan to control computing and the internet. Having someone else offer standards independently is one less way to force people to use windows. They won’t go quietly!

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