From Shawn Fanning (creator of Napster) and Dave Morin (ex-Facebook) comes a new social network platform. Launched just last night in Apple’s App Store, Path creates (and limits you) to a social network of 50 close friends. You can share your personal moments in the form of photos, tag places, things and people, and also capture where you were at the time geographically. Since your network is limited to a max of 50 friends, the creators of Path think that you’ll not only share more often, but you’ll share more personal “Paths” that you normally wouldn’t throw up on Facebook or Twitter. The problem with Path, at least in our limited use of the application and network, is that with no external sharing, and a very, very limited group of friends, we’re not sure how useful the application is and will be. For instance, most of the stuff I want to share is public anyway (Twitpics, Facebook uploads), and the private photos I don’t want to share publicly, well, they are private. In theory, it would be great if there was a public by default option in Path, something that would let you use Path in conjunction with Twitter and Facebook, and a private option which would then limit your photo’s exposure to just your internal Path network of friends. In a world where updating Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Instagram, and everything else we’re on constantly, Path at this point seems too limited to be useful. Hopefully that will change, though. Let us know if you have given it a go and what your thoughts are — it’s available now if you want to give a try. More →
It’s pretty incomprehensible that until about two weeks ago, I had never used a piece of Sonos equipment. Heard about it, and read about it? Sure, but never used it. What MP3s did for personal audio enjoyment 5 years ago, Sonos does for your home, office, or wherever you want today, ingeniously creating a seamless and practically unlimited expandable system. Sonos is literally one of the coolest things I’ve seen in years; not because they reinvented the wheel (even though they kind of did in some places), but because it works. More →
Shawn Fanning has long since bailed but his brainchild, Napster, has just been re-launched again and this time Best Buy is at the helm. Whether or not the consumer electronics mega-retailer will have more success with the service remains to be seen but one thing is certain — the innovation that made Napster so popular when it first launched has been completely replaced by emulation. The new Napster is merely a combination of a few RIAA-friendly services and it’s using DRM-free MP3s and unlimited free streaming to bait fresh meat. An advertising blitz spanning Best Buy retail locations nationwide will likely reel in a fair number of subscribers but Web-savvy music fans may not be as easy to bring on board. Essentially, the new Napster is Rhapsody with a lower monthly fee. Or… The new Napster is Last.fm or Pandora with a higher monthly fee but no need to jump off the site to purchase tracks. Yeah, for now we’ll stick with Pandora/Last.fm/Slacker/Songza/Favtape/Spotify/SeeqPod/Rhapsody/imeem/etc, etc. Hit the jump for Napster’s press release.
The Isle of Man, a small self-governing subsidiary of the United Kingdom with perhaps the coolest flag ever (see above), is proposing a new law that would allow its residents immunity from prosecution for illegal downloading of copyrighted material. Each citizen would be forced to pay a monthly 1 Pound (roughly $1.40) fee into a communal fund that would be redistributed to copyright holders by a centralized government office. Both publishers and labels would benefit, and the residents of the Isle could breathe more easily knowing that their Torrent habits won’t land them a stint in some horrifying Isle of Man jailhouse. The downside, of course, is that the amount of compensation on the copyright holder’s side would be pretty nominal, leading us to believe that it’s going to be a hard sell. Then again, the concept has been batted around since the formative days of Napster, so there must be some appeal to such a business model. It’s certainly innovative, and some cash is better than nothing, so it will be interesting to see if regulators and government officials manage to pull this one off.
Before you ask, yes Napster does indeed still exist. What’s more, with a current subscriber base of around 700,000 it’s still a pretty respectable offering. Napster’s current incarnation offers three main plans for accessing its library of over six million songs; the first is an iTunes-like music download service that provides a la carte tracks for 99¢ and album downloads for $6.95 and up. A basic subscription service allows users to pay $12.95 per month for unlimited streaming to any PC and download access (up to three PCs) to the full Napster library, though you’ll need to purchase tracks before they can be transferred to a portable device or burned to a CD. Finally, Napster To Go rings up at $14.95 per month and adds unlimited transfers to any compatible portable device. Napster To Go subscribers still must purchase tracks before they can burn them to a CD. So now that you’re up to date on Shawn Fanning’s storied brainchild, get ready to watch it go corporate. Best Buy has announced that it will shell out $121 million to acquire the nearly-forgotten game-changer and the current management team will stay on to run the show. The boys from Metallica must be rolling over in their graves. Oh wait, apparently they’re still alive too! Live and learn. Congrats to the Napster team – we wonder how long it will be before Napster cards replace all of those iTunes gift cards currently dangling around Best Buy registers.