Portable Media Devices and Subscription Services

I just read this interesting article on subscription services and portable devices. Apparently, Napster is going to be offering an upgrade to their current unlimited streaming service next year that will support portable devices. For $5 more a month (a grand total of $15 a month) you can transfer an unlimited number of Napster’s 700,000 tracks to a compatible portable device. Major Cool. In Napster’s CEO’s own words:

You can fit 10,000 songs on [a top-of-the-line iPod], but to do that would cost you $10,000 if you bought the songs from Apple. With our plan, customers can get 10,000 songs on their device for $180 a year. It’s an enormous value.

I had the Napster streaming service for a while, but the inability to take the music on the go was the major reason I canceled it. My 40GB Nomad Zen Xtra is only 55% full – I would re-subscribe to this service in a second if I could use it to fill up the remaining 17GB. Unfortunately, according to the article, the Zen Xtra isn’t one of the six devices that works with the new DRM technology…yet. Creative is supposed to upgrade their Zen Micro (again, according to the article) early next year. I would expect that Creative would upgrade at least their jukebox media players – if not the entire line – to support the new technology. I’ve been a happy Nomad customer for years now (I own three Nomads – the Zen Xtra, a IIc and a MuVo) but my brand loyalty would plummet if I had to buy a new player to use the new service.