So a few weeks ago I wrote about Microsoft's Consumer Electronics Endgame which was focused on the PlaysForSure brand and WMA DRM format. Well, today Napster announced its awaited Napster To Go service which will allow subscribers (at $18 a month) to download any of the million songs in the Napster catalog to their mobile music player that supports the Janus DRM - i.e. PlaysForSure - like the iRiver H10 pictured above. Another device would be the Audiovox SMT5600, which I just saw in a music video the other night by Maroon 5.
This just opened the crack just a little more to the apocolypse I was predicting for the other standards in the mobile media space. I'm not going to claim that Napster's service is going to take down Apple's iTunes for example, I'm just going to say that it's one step towards that eventual outcome. Why? Well, if Apple's business model is to sell both the razors and the blades, Microsoft just took a good shot at the revenue from the blades. Look for Napster and other companies offering similar services to hammer away at the idea that it'll cost you $10,000 to fill your iPod with 10,000 songs, or only $18 to fill your PlaysForSure player with 1 million. That's bound to sink in sooner or later.
And from personal experience, I've used Napster's service before (in December 2003) and liked it *a lot*. However, I couldn't take the music with me, so I eventually dropped it and started using iTunes more. Well, that's no longer an issue. The only issue left is the players. The other manufacturers have to get off their asses and compete with Apple. The devices suck or are just too expensive. Even Microsoft employees prefer iPods. But I can't imagine it'll be much longer.
I hate it when I'm right sometimes.