Napster launches on Apple's iPhone

Katie Gatto · September 20, 2010 · Short URL:

How will the paid service compare to Pandora's free one?

Napster was released Monday for Apple iOS devices, expanding the music service from PC and Mac, to a whole new slew of gadgets from the iPhone, iPod to the iPad. The download, which is now available in the app store, will only work on devices running version 3.0 or later of the iOS. 

The application is free to download, but will cost a monthly subscription fee. The fee is $10 per month of service. The service allows access to Napster's library of 10 million full-length songs. Once a user gives up their subscription, they lose the music, in an arrangement similar to the Zune Pass.

Given that Pandora has been on the iPhone longer, and is giving away custom stations of streaming music for free, the Napster app may find itself fighting an uphill battle.

When Pandora launched on the iPhone in 2008, it was able to boast a new user every two seconds, on average, for about a week straight. In that same week, it streamed 3.3 million tracks to iPhone listeners. In July of this year, Pandora reached the 60-million user mark, and it's expected to nearly double that by yearend. According to Steve Carpenter, an Internet entrepreneur who also provides financial analysis on private companies, Pandora is likely to have more then 100 million users this year, with many of those new users coming from the iPhone app. Pandora however, does not list specific numbers, on how many of those users they acquired from the iPhone.

Napster, however, has shown a marked decline in users, according to Quantcast, its has gone from 1.2 million users per month, to just over 800,000 users per month, in the last six months.

Still, Napster does have some features that are compelling. One of the advantages that the Napster app has over Pandora is that it allows for offline play. This is good news for iPod touch users, who are wireless network dependant. It is also good for iPad users, who have not elected to buy the 3G data plan. The other notable advantage is the ability to choose your songs. Since Pandora does not give you specific song control, and Napster does.

Though, who knows if this will be enough to make users pay for the service, when their iTunes library is only a button away.

This is not Napster's first foray into mobile music, in 2009, the company announced that it would be available on Web-Enabled Phones, via A mobile subscription, by either method, allows users to also stream music on any PC.

The app takes up 1.8 MB of space, and, according to the app store,  is rated 12+ for:

  • - "Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • - Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
  • - Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References"

At the time of the writing of this piece the app already had 16 reviews, and a four and a half star rating on a scale of five.

Napster is owned by Best Buy.

(image from Sound Taxi)

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Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they love
anytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: laptop and
desktop computers, smartphones, connected BluRay players, connected TVs,
etc. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” –
a favorite artist, song or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply
detailed, hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization or
Pandora. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback
Pandora crafts personalized stations from the more than 800,000 songs that
have been analyzed since the project began in January 2000.
More than 75 million people throughout the United States listen to
personalized radio stations for free on Pandora through their PCs, mobile
phones and devices such as the iPad, and connected in-house devices
ranging from TVs to set-top boxes to Blu-Ray players. Mobile technology has
been a significant factor in the growth and popularity of Pandora, starting
with the introduction of the Apple app store for the iPhone in the summer of
2008. Pandora instantly became one of the most top downloaded apps and
today, according to Nielsen, is one of the top five most popular apps across
all smartphone platforms.

Pandora is free, simple and, thanks to connectivity, available everywhere
consumers are – at the office, at home, in the car and all points in between.
In 2009 the Company announced that Pandora would be incorporated into
the dashboard in Ford cars via SYNC technology; GM has already followed in
announcing plans to integrate Pandora into its vehicles and Mercedes-Benz
introduced their Media Interface Plus device that works with the
free Pandora iPhone app to provide direct control of Pandora from in-dash
stereo controls. This was all great news for the millions of Pandora listeners
who had been plugging their smartphones into car dashboards to listen to
personalized stations while driving. More than 50 percent of radio listening
happens in the car, making it a crucial arena for Pandora.

Today tens of millions of people have a deeply personal connection with
Pandora based on the delight of personalized radio listening and discovery.
These highly engaged listeners reinforce the value Pandora provides to: 1)
musicians, who have found in Pandora a level playing field on which their
music has a greater chance of being played than ever before; 2) advertisers,
who benefit from the multi-platform reach of Pandora, as well as its best
practices in targeting consumers for specific campaigns; 3) the music
industry, which has found in Pandora a highly effective distribution channel;
and 4) automobile and consumer electronics device manufacturers, who have
noted that incorporating Pandora into their product makes it more valuable
to consumers.

Pandora continues to focus on its business in the United States. The radio
arena has never been hotter, thanks to technology that enables radio to be
personalized to the individual and more accessible than ever before. Right
now millions of people listen to Pandora in the United States and we hope
someday to bring Pandora to billions of people around the world.

• 2000 – Tim Westergren’s Music Genome Project begins.
• 2005 – Pandora launches on the web.
• 2008 – Pandora app becomes one of the most consistently downloaded
apps in the Apple store.
• 2009 – Ford announces Pandora will be incorporated into car
dashboard. Alpine and Pioneer begin selling aftermarket radios that
connect to consumers’ iPhones and puts the control and command of
Pandora into the car dashboard.
• 2010 – Pandora is present on more than 200 connected consumer
electronics devices ranging from smartphones to TVs to set-top boxes
to Blu-ray players and is able to stream visual, audio, and interactive
advertising to computers, smartphones, iPads, and in-home connected


Steven Carpenter

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