The irony here is so thick we could cut it with a chainsaw. What are we talking about? Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the duo responsible for the former P2P app Kazaa that, let's face it, was never really used to download Linux distros and instead was the tool of choice for illicit downloaders, are stepping back on the digital music stage and launching a new startup called "Rdio."
Taking a page from Napster, Rdio is a legit service and will charge $5 to $10 a month for "unlimited access to music from your computer and mobile phone, even when you're offline." There will be apps for different smartphones, including iPhones, BlackBerry phones, and Android-based phones, and if you shell out the full $10, you'll be able to store and stream songs on these and perhaps other mobile devices.
According to The New York Times, Rdio will open this week as an invitation-only preview, and then become more widely available later this year, joining a sea of other subscription music services. Where Rdio will attempt to set itself apart is in its social element, giving users the ability to follow friends on the site, see what songs they're listening to, and view a list of the most popular music on your friends list.
Following in the footsteps of Napster, KaZaA has shed its shady past as an illicit download P2P vehicle and is making a legit comeback. The relaunched site is now a full fledged music service offering unlimited streams and downloads for $19.98 per month.
Under the new business model, subscribers can consume as many tracks as they want from both major and independent artists, so long as you're a U.S. resident with a Windows-based PC. Also similar to Napster, a subscription is good for up to three authorized PCs, however a major downside is the lack of portable media player support.
A review of the service is already up over at Arstechnia, who seemed generally underwhelmed with KaZaA's new identity
"The service tries to differentiate itself by allowing users to pay for the subscription either with a credit card or attached to their monthly cell phone bills, but this level of choice is comparable to being able to use either cash or credit card at the gas pump in terms of excitement," notes Arstechnica.
KaZaA offers a free 7 day trial if you want to see for yourself how the service compares. You can check it out here.