Napster CEO Gorog: Steve Jobs ‘must be pretty frightened’ of Napster To Go

J.D. Lasica spoke with Napster CEO Chris Gorog for Engadget in an interview published today.

Regarding Apple’s iPod and iTunes, Gorog said, “We don’t really compete with iTunes. We feel we could compete with iTunes all day long and frankly kick their butt. iTunes probably has 10 or 15 percent of the comprehensiveness of what the Napster experience offers. In fact, we offer an a la carte download service similar to iTunes for 99 cents a track or $9.95 an album. The issue for us is not iTunes but the iPod. The iPod has been so successful that what you have is a lot of consumers going into the marketplace, very excited about the opportunity for digital music, and they purchase the most well-known device. They don’t know in advance that when they buy that device they can’t use Napster or any of our other competitors. So they get trapped in the experience of iTunes.”

MacDailyNews Take: At least iTunes offers an experience. Napster offers an a la carte service that doesn’t work with iPods or the Napster To Go subscription scheme that also doesn’t work with iPod, but does trap you into another monthly bill that you have to pay for the rest of your life or until you don’t want to listen to music.

Engadget’s Lasica asked Gorog if Napster’s incompatibility with Apple’s iPod is a “big built-in disadvantage?” Gorog replied, “In the short term it has been a disadvantage. I think the real statistic that we look at is Apple controls about 32 percent of the worldwide MP3 market. So when Apple throws their statistics out, they never include flash players, which is an enormously important part of this market. Also, we fully expect iPod’s share of the hard-drive device market to have a substantial decline during this Christmas selling season because virtually every MP3 player sold in America will support Napster To Go this fall — except the iPod. So you’re going to have consumers having to make a decision between last year’s technology, your father’s Oldsmobile, or any other MP3 player that will support this extraordinary portable subscription opportunity.”

MacDailyNews Take: FUD. Unfortunately for Gorog, Apple will soon throw out statistics that also include iPod shuffle flash player unit sales.

Lasica: “Let’s discuss the recent friendly jousting between you and Steve Jobs last month. When you heard that Jobs sent an e-mail to top record industry executives, alerting them to a security gap in Napster’s service, what was your first reaction?”

Gorog: “My first reaction was that he must be pretty frightened of the Napster To Go technology to be so petty. Frankly, that’s what I think the impetus was for him to fire that off. It was really pretty silly. He was claiming we had some sort of security gap, and of course we didn’t. That technology — like recording something off of a radio broadcast — had been out there for 10 years. Certainly his service is susceptible to it as well. We saw it as a sign of weakness, that he’s very concerned about a technology that makes his hardware and his software irrelevant in our view.”

MacDailyNews Take: Is Gorog a moron or does he think the rest of the world is populated with morons? Apple’s iTunes Music Store (iTMS) streams 30-second previews for a reason, so a user can’t steal the whole iTMS library (you can steal the 30-second iTMS previews all day if you wish – have fun). With iTMS, obviously, you’d have to buy the song first before you could strip off the DRM. What’s to prevent users from subscribing to Napster To Go and stealing an as many complete songs as they wish for just a $15 monthly subscription fee? The broken Napster To Go “technology” makes legal payment for online music irrelevant in our view. Don’t steal music.

Lasica: “What happens if Apple counters Napster To Go with iTunes To Go? Do you see a music subscription service coming from Apple?”

Gorog: “If they bring out a subscription service, then they will have a competitive product that’s good for their users. Ultimately, their users will have to make a tough decision. Do they want to stick with a platform that is not going to be the ubiquitous platform for digital media around the world, that is not going to take them into the living room, for example. The Apple technologies will always be what they have always been: really great in a completely closed, proprietary world. But at some point, people will lose their sense of humor about that when they realize that they’re constantly running into situations and obstacles where they have a technology that has not been built on an open platform. The most obvious example is, if you bought an iPod and want to listen to Napster, you’re screwed. That kind of is the Apple way.”

MacDailyNews Take: FUD. The de facto standard for legal digital online music files is Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p). If Gorog doesn’t know this, he ought to.

Elsewhere in the article, in discussing Digital Rights Management (DRM), Gorog stated, “I think this is a Windows Media Audio world. I don’t think there’s any question about that. WMA already dominates MP3 players globally.”

Full interview with much more here.

MacDailyNews Take: Elsewhere in the interview, Lasica asks where Napster will be in a decade, Gorog responds, “Ten years from now we are… one of the biggest names in digital music, if not the biggest. We are ubiquitous, and we are cross-platform. We are everywhere you want to listen to music — in your PC, in your living room, in your car.” In other words, according to Gorog, it’ll take Napster 10 years to get where Apple’s iPod+iTunes already is today.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Napster’s dirty little secret: changing subscription services into downloads is easy – February 18, 2005
Napster feels the heat over flawed copy-protection scheme – February 17, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs warns record industry of Napster To Go’s security gap – February 16, 2005
Users thwart Napster To Go’s copy protection; do the music labels realize the piracy potential? – February 15, 2005
Napster-To-Go’s ‘rental music’ DRM circumvented – February 14, 2005
Napster CEO Gorog: ‘it’s stupid to buy an iPod’ – February 10, 2005
Report: Napster faces uphill fight to gain share, Apple prepared to run iTunes at a loss – February 10, 2005
Napster’s ‘iPodlessness’ doesn’t bode well for its future – February 10, 2005
$10,000 to fill an iPod? Napster’s going to end up with egg on their face – February 04, 2005
Why ‘Napster To Go’ will flop – February 03, 2005
Napster CEO: We’re ‘the biggest brand in digital music, much more exciting than Apple’s iTunes’ – February 03, 2005


  1. “I think this is a Windows Media Audio world. I don’t think there’s any question about that. WMA already dominates MP3 players globally.”

    I thought that mp3’s dominated the mps player globally?

  2. He has a point about the subscription service though. Apple would crush him if they offered that.

    I would love to get unlimited music for a flat rate. And still be able to buy what I really like. There’s a lot of music I don’t mind listening to, but wouldn’t spend money on. Of course that’s what the radio is for. Give me FM on my iPod please!

  3. huge mac fan. love what apple’s doing with music. own an ipod and buy songs on itunes… even though apple is doing the right thing so far… they will eventually need to make their “de facto standard” an OPEN de facto standard.

  4. Gorog was right on the money about the petty part in Jobs “alerting” music CEOs of the security risk in Napster. Of course we didn’t get to see the actual content of the letter. And the person who leaked the memo was acting rather petty, too.

    Gorog is playing the FUD card well. For the under-informed (and there are a lot of them when it comes to Apple and its products), this is and has been a successful tactic.

    But, Gorog is playing these cards out of weakness, not strength.

  5. [Gorog stated, … WMA already dominates MP3 players globally.]

    I’m reminded of the girl in the KitKat advert.

    “Just because you say so, doesn’t mean it is.”


    Maybe what he meant be ‘globally’, is “WMA dominates on a different globe” – just not ‘The Earth’ globe.

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  6. MDN takes: epic. I almost don’t need to read the article now, cuz you grabbed the important pieces and then said exactly what I would be thinking. Nice work. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  7. Cross platform for who? Mac users can’t access it and iPods can’t play using it. I don’t want to be billed $15 a month to rent there music.
    What a bunch of crap!

  8. Come onnnn, people. Don’t fall for this fool’s rantings and ravings. I mean really . . . Chris Moron. Look at him. Just seeing his picture makes you kind of feel sorry for de guy. Talk about ugly! I’ve sniffed the butts of Weimeraner’s that were better looking. Seriously, this guy’s got more believability issues than Wacko Jacko. Hey, I keed . . .

    Okay, not this time!

  9. Wow! Gorog could should be granted the title of Napster’s Minister of (dis)Information! He is completely delusional. Don’t worry Chris, the white straightjacket you’re headed toward will look great with a set of white iPod earbuds!

    Napster will be lucky to be in business a year from now, let alone 10 years from now. He should be ashamed to have even soiled Napster’s good name with this horrendous service. I mean, the original Napster was a revolution that forever changed the topography of the music industry. It was a fire that scorched big business’ backside in a way that cannot be repaired. Then they decided to commercialize it, making it a sad shell of what it once was. It’s like resurrecting Jimi Hendrix and forcing him to play in a Polka band. They should have just let the Cat have his flash of brilliance and die. It showed zero respect for the brand that they thought would magically hand them the industry on a silver platter. They deserve what 2005 is going to bring them. Gorog, I suggest you post your resume on now – these things can take awhile, and your track record isn’t stellar.

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