What now, Napster? You’ve got a bunch of MP3 freaks pirating music at a pace that would make the warez kids proud, but how are you going to make any money off of that? Some options:
- Share more file types than just MP3s…the aforementioned warez kids would love that. People could share application installers (shareware or otherwise), fonts, photos, spreadsheets, Quicktime movies, bookmark files, or anything else.
- Staying with the music theme, their app could be used as a legitimate delivery platform for commercial music so you could buy Mariah Carey’s latest single in MP3 format off of Napster for a couple bucks. Of course, the music industry would never go for this, nor would Napster’s existing users….they would just d/l the single off of someone else’s hard drive for free.
- Napster could conceivably use the popularity of their app to build a separate little Internet…much like AOL has with their online service. Having information scattered about on several million different computers (like it is on the Napster “network”) sounds like the Internet at large, but I believe the fact that the computers in question are the users’ own computers and not servers is an important difference. Having 5 Gigs of storage space somewhere where you don’t have to upload anything to will make a difference in the nature of the content offered. Right now, Jane Q. User gets her 5 megs of GeoCities Web space to do with as she wants….what happens when she have 5 gigs to play with?
Whatever they do, Napster is going to be very valuable as a buyout target. Look at their current demographic: people with nice computers, early adopters, fast bandwidth, Web-savvy, young, media-happy, etc. It’s a goldmine.
About four hours after I wrote the above brainspew about Napster, I read this little ditty over at Feed. I guess a lot of that stuff was pretty obvious.