Doing the Math

Napster tells us about the iPod and Napster, and wants us to “Do the math” about the costs…

Napster tells us about the iPod and Napster, and wants us to “Do the math” about the costs…

From what I know, the iPod is a hardware device, and I can put MP3 files on it. I can get these MP3 files from digitizing my existing music collection on cassette, vinyl, or CD, as well as buy audio from a variety of places, and convert that audio to a non-DRM‘d format that allows me to do with it what I please. After the initial cost of purchasing an iPod, the amount I spend is completely up to me, which is quite different than $10,000, which is what Napster thinks 10,000 song will cost.

In contrast, our good friends at Napster tell me that I can access 1 million songs using (only) my (compatible) computer and (compatible) portable player for $15 (per month) for as long as Napster stays in business, and the software/hardware continues to work. I will assume I can buy a new portable player to replace my old one if it’s lost or destroyed, and it’ll all work out, right? So, 1 year of Napster would be $180, and if we can assume they never raise the price, then after 10 years I’ve only spent $1800 to have access to Napster. After 20 years it’s only $3600, again, assuming they never raise the price. 20 years shouldn’t sound outrageous, I have albums and cassettes that are that old, or even older, and most of the CD’s I own are over 10 years old.

Now, maybe it isn’t as bad as it all seems, because Napster says that people:

…can purchase tracks at a Napster subscriber discount, burn their music to CD and import it into iTunes to put the music on their iPods…

Bravo! All I have to do is subscribe to get access, then pay to purchase stuff, then work around the DRM, and I’m all set. It sounds similar to the iTunes music store, but without the subscription… Really that’s the whole issue I think a lot of people have, is that they want to create a subscription service where people are not used to it. We’ve had how many years of the old “I bought this music, I own it” mentality (where “own it” basically means being able to listen to it without having to pay each month, or worry about it working on the device that is “approved” to play it.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

(And yes, it would be nice if Apple opened up a bit more to other devices, parties, services, etc…)

(See Also: Daring Fireball’s Subscription Small Print)