“Napster Inc said on Monday it would start selling downloads in the MP3 format from the second quarter of this year in the latest blow to copy protection for songs bought online,” Yinka Adegoke reports for Reuters.
“Napster had sold songs protected with Microsoft Corp’s Windows-based digital rights management (DRM) to prevent buyers from illegally making multiple copies or distributing songs to other users,” Adegoke reports.
“MP3 is the most widely available digital audio format and plays on the widest range of devices, including the dominant digital music player, Apple Inc’s iPod,” Adegoke reports.
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: Napster will shift its entire download sales catalog to MP3 in the second calendar quarter of 2008. Napster’s Chairman and CEO Chris Gorog said in a statement, “As there is now a critical mass of support for MP3s we are very pleased to announce we will soon offer our customers the user-friendly MP3 file format throughout our product line-up and provide the top-tier content our users expect from Napster. The ubiquity and cross-platform compatibility of MP3s should create a more level playing field for music services and hardware providers and result in greater ease of use and broader adoption of digital music.” Napster will provide further details about its MP3 initiative upon its upcoming availability.
Good move (that’ll probably allow Napster to survive) except for one thing: why do these outfits insist on going backwards in time to the MP3 dinosaur when they have the more efficient and equally-DRM-free AAC available at their fingertips? Why do they stick to an old, outdated, now-surpassed format?
Can’t they take this opportunity, where they’re stripping off the DRM — thanks to Apple’s Steve Jobs — and changing formats to also follow Jobs’ lead by using the successor to MP3, the superior AAC instead? What’s next, flying cars that they insist on fueling with leaded gas from the 1970s?
Using MP3 today is just dumb, shortsighted, and regressive for no good reason. Now is the time for those straggling device makers to finally add AAC capabilities and let’s move forward, instead of clinging to “backwards compatibility” like some PC box assembler still bolting on parallel ports and installing floppy disk drives. At this rate, an iTunes Store selling point is going to be superior file format vs. last century’s MP3. We’d much rather have DRM-free 256kbps AAC vs. 256kbps MP3 and so would our iPods’ and iPhones’ storage capacities and batteries.
AAC advantages over MP3:
• Improved compression provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes
• Support for multichannel audio, providing up to 48 full frequency channels
• Higher resolution audio, yielding sampling rates up to 96 kHz
• Improved decoding efficiency, requiring less processing power for decode, hence greater battery life
Now, how long can the music cartels get away with offering DRM-free music to every also-ran and their mother while blatantly excluding Apple? Are they demanding variable pricing (read: price hikes) and bundles (read: albums-only with assorted “extras”) from Apple before deigning to remove their locks? Is it legal to exclude the dominant seller of online music simply because you desperately desire to “level the playing field?” Where is the collusion line and when will it be crossed, if it hasn’t been crossed already?