Napster Laments But Still Bets On WMA

At the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York, Napster CEO Chris Gorog said problems with Microsoft Windows Media technologies and the hardware players developed by Microsoft’s device partners have hampered companies trying to compete with both Apple’s iTunes Music Store and iPod music players.

“The iPod’s prevalence in this market has been a hinderance to some of the other services,” noted Gorog, whose Napster service relies solely in Microsoft Windows Media and digital rights management technology for its a la carte and subscription-based music download services, and noted that the complexity of dealing with a variety of services and broad range of music player devices has made for a rocky road. Referring to Microsoft and manufacturers building media player devices based on Microsoft technology, Gorog said “There’s no question that their execution has been less than brilliant over the last 12 months.”

Speaking of the overall music market, Gorog dismissed Apple’s near-80 percent dominance, noting “To date, only 5 percent of sales have migrated digitally. We are in the very, very early days of this.”

“Apple has always performed well during early adoption when they can control hardware and software,” Gorog continued, but went on to predict the Windows Media format and technology will win control of the digital media marketplace. “Massive global companies like Samsung, like Sony, like Toshiba, like Dell [are] coming to the party, and they’re all basing their platform and their hardware on Windows Media audio. So while it takes a little bit longer