Roxio, the company that bought the remnants of fallen song-swapping service Napster, is preparing to relaunch the service, dubbed Napster 2.0.
Saying that it is "letting the cat out of the bag," Roxio plans to unveil the kitty icon-clad service at a launch event in New York. Napster's resurrection comes more than two years after the service was knocked offline amid accusations of copyright infringement from the major record labels.
Senior analyst with Jupiter Research, Mark Mulligan, said that Napster's "hip" image would be an advantage in the market.
"Napster has the James Dean effect -- it died young, it died beautiful, and people remember it fondly," Mulligan said.
But unlike the free file-swapping format the service had in the past, the new Napster would be a paid service with deals from all five major labels and a handful of independents firmly in place, Roxio said.
Napster 2.0 would initially offer access to more than 500,000 tracks through individual download, monthly subscription and Internet radio, Roxio said last July while previewing the new service.
In fact, the new Napster will be much like existing label-backed services such as MusicNet, according to Mulligan.
Because of the limits of the record licensing deals, Napster 2.0 would focus on music streaming and burning would come at a premium, he said.
"It will be a welcome addition to the marketplace but will be nowhere near what Napster used to be," Mulligan said.
For a nearly unlimited music selection, users will still be tempted to go to free music-trading programs like Sharman Networks' Kazaa, Mulligan said.
Kazaa was currently a bigger brand name than Napster but it has been hurt by the amount of spyware lurking on its service, he said.
Roxio has been preparing for the relaunch of Napster since it said it was scooping up Napster's intellectual property and technology patents for about $US5 million late last year.
The company bought online music subscription service Pressplay for $US39.5 million in May.
Roxio said it would use the service's technology as the platform to relaunch Napster as a legitimate service.
Roxio, which sells digital media software, is banking on Napster's brand name and image to make a splash in the online music service market.
Although Roxio's position as a CD-burning software provider may give consumers the hope of more portability and download capabilities, Mulligan said that, again, it would be limited by the licensing deals.
"This is not a PC version of the iTunes online music store," Mulligan said, referring to Apple's popular service.
Napster 2.0 is being introduced in the US. It was unclear how long it would be before the service was available worldwide. Mulligan said it might be a long time before the service is offered in the European market.