Wall of Fame: Napster vs iTunes

napster

The Gadget show's wall of fame again and this time its the battle of music download sites. Thankful this time they picked the right one. Napster.

In the red corner: Napster. A bit of a rebel it shook the music industry to its core and changed the way we thought about music for ever. Devised by an 18-year-old college student, Napster launched in 1999. It combined a music search function with a file-sharing system, which effectively meant you had access to all the music on all the hard drives of computers connected to Napster. It was bit dodgy, infringing on copyright law, and the music industry had it shut down in 2001. But Napster lives on in an online music store, and it’s the legacy of the original site that makes it so great.

In the blue corner: iTunes! Proclaiming to be the daddy of online music, iTunes is like having a massive music and video warehouse in your bedroom. It originally launched in 2001 as a digital music player before it converted to an online store. It makes transferring music to your iPod easy as! And it’s this simplicity that’s led to its dominance of the online music world with over four billion songs sold!

Putting my hate for the itunes store and its locked in ecosystem a side, itunes would never have come about unless Napster had come on the scene. Napster took all the risks and got finally sued so much that it went legit. iTunes has a massive audience but its just a large download store and isn't ground breaking. Even the removal of DRM came late to iTunes. No doubt Napster deserves the position on the wall of fame.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.