You know, when Napster announced its subscription music plan, I never gave it a second look. Not because I assumed it wouldn’t work with my Linux box or Katie’s Mac, but for one simple reason:
No matter how many songs you “buy” on the plan, once your subscription lapses, they’re all gone.
Want to stop paying $15/mo? Say goodbye to your music.
Napster goes out of business? Say goodbye to your music.
On the other hand, suppose I’ve bought a bunch of songs from iTunes at 99¢ each, and I decide I don’t want to buy any more from them? No problem. If the marketplace changes two years from now and Apple decides to abandon the iTunes music store, I can still listen to songs I bought from them.
Amazingly, some people still need this explained to them. John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes, “I thought this was obvious, but, judging by my email, there seems to be a fair amount of confusion…” Forget the math, do the logic first!
There is one flaw in Gruber’s logic regarding CDs vs. subscription music: while I expect CDs will be playable over the next decade or two, eventually they will go the way of vinyl records. However, if I were to bet, I’d expect my CD collection will be playable long after Napster To Go has, shall we say, gone.