The new “legal” version of Napster launches today. The question is: will anyone care? The latest incarnation of the service aims to capitalize on the file-sharing mania that the original version so controversially unleashed. Napster boasts a database of 500,000 songs which can be downloaded for 99 cents a piece or $9.95 for an entire album. The digital media company, Roxio, forked over $5 million for the all-mighty brand name. It’ll be interesting to see whether Napster can transcend its bad reputation. Can it appeal to the mainstream surfers who were too nave or scared to mess with the real thing? Napster has already made one shrewd move–offering gift cards similar to those you can buy at, say, Barnes and Noble or the Gap. This circumvents one of the major roadblocks facing their prime audience: teenagers. Instead of having to hustle an American Express from mom and dad to download the new Marilyn Manson, a kid can use one of these cards instead. And, best of all for Roxio, the company doesn’t have to pay any credit card fees. Apparently the new Napster has one thing that original founder Shawn Fanning never managed to devise: a business strategy.
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