Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Free Downloads from Napster?

If Napster ever figures out a way to turn a profit, Chris Gorog, CEO of the digital-music site, is going to have one heckuva big last laugh. Ever since he began his quest to create a digital-music powerhouse around the brand made famous in the late 1990s for online piracy, the skepticism has been unceasing. "No one I know believes they're going to survive," says one digital-music executive.

Gorog's latest move doesn't seem destined to quiet the naysayers. On May 1, the Los Angeles-based company announced a new Web-based version of its software, along with a new service that lets users listen to any song among its catalog of 2 million songs absolutely free -- so long as they don't want to listen to any one song more than five times.

While Napster's share price had risen 30% since Jan. 1, based on expectations for a Web-based service, the actual unveiling did little to keep the momentum going. The stock closed at $4.61 on May 1, virtually unchanged from its previous close.

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