Napster Inc, the digital music service, said on Tuesday it plans to attract more customers by moving to a Web-based platform allowing users to play their music from any computer without having to download any additional software.
The move is intended to open up the service and attract more paying subscribers by making the Napster platform more flexible and compatible with any Internet-enabled device.
"With this new platform Napster can easily be integrated into consumer electronics devices or integrated into other Web sites such as social networking sites," said Christopher Allen, chief operating officer at Napster.
Napster sells a subscription service for $10 to $15 a month where users can stream or download an unlimited number of songs from its 5 million-strong library. But Napster's and other music subscription services have so far lagged behind larger rival iTunes, which uses a more traditional buy-to-own model. Itunes sells songs as permanent downloads at 99 cents each.
Allen forecast that, by the end of next year, the unprotected MP3 digital format will have become standard with major music companies and retailers. So far, only Universal Music Group and EMI Group have been selling music without DRM.
Napster says it has 770,000 subscribers.
Napter is one of those companies that should have done fantastically well but never did. I blame its horrible PC software and the unexpected dominance of the iPod, which is incompatible with Napster. It's unclear whether moving to the Web will do much to change Napster's fate.