The New York Post is reporting that Google is aggressively seeking a strategic alliance with or even the outright purchase of Napster. Rumors have been rampant in recent days both about Google's desire to get into digital music and troubles within Napster who let go of 10 % of its workforce last week.
Napster could be an interesting play for Google who have already entered the video download marketplace, but lag behind in music. One has to wonder , however, why the net giant needs Napster and it's comparatively small half million subscribers to leap into a real position in digital downloads. The Post suggests that it is a sign that Google "sees subscription services, rather than the individual download model that Apple's iTunes is built on, as the future of digital music". Perhaps the might Google sees something that others have not seen in recent earnings reports that seem to indicate continued consumer resistance to music subscriptions.
For Napster, a Google alliance or acquisition would provide a significant boost for a company struggling to find it's place in a competitive and shifting marketplace. The Google name alone is consumer magic; much like Napster's name once was.
Industry observers had speculated about a more aggressive or creative move into music by Google including perhaps variable pricing, iTunes style ease of use, and more open access for independent music than other services like Napster currently provides. But perhaps Google has something much grander in mind...Could a Google/Napster hybrid provide free ad supported subscriptions? Or dare we dream about even free downloads like the Napster of yore...only legal? It's had to imagine what Google is thinking, but they've surprised us before.
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