And so the Napster saga continues (or, depending on your perspective, it comes to an end). The former peer-to-peer pioneer gone legit music service managed to avoid being gobbled up by an ice cream store owner, but the temptation to sell ultimately proved too strong for investors eager to cash in rather than continue to face stiff competition.
According to The Wall Street Journal, electronics retailer Best Buy has agreed to buy Napster for $121 million, which includes $67 million of cash and short-term investments on Napster's books. The acquisition values the digital music service at $2.65 per share, or almost double the closing price on Friday, which sat at $1.36.
"Best Buy intends to use Napster's capabilities and digital subscriber base to reach new customers with an enhanced experience for exploring and selecting music and otehr digital entertainment products over an increasing array of devices," said Best Buy president and COO Brian Dunn.
Napster's chief executive Chris Gorog is expected to remain in his post, along with the company's other senior executives. Best Buy also said it currently has no plans to relocate the music service's Los Angeles headquarters.
Was this a good move for Best Buy? Hit the jump and let us know your thoughts.
The current sea of web browsers is awash in promises, but what makes Firefox better then Internet Explorer? And is Google’s Chrome really any faster or better at rendering web pages then Safari? Neowin.net was looking to answer this very question when it authored an excellent roundup of browser rendering engines. The report helps to break down which browsers and applications make use of each of the four most prominent technologies: Trident (Microsoft), Gecko (Mozilla), Webkit (Apple/Google), and Presto(Opera). While both Trident and Presto are both closed source projects, Gecko and Webkit remain open source and are likely to be the basis of any future browsers entering the market. It is an excellent reference for users looking to switch browsers and is a reminder that we should pay attention more to the underlying engine being used then the name of the browser itself. Market share of the various engines is a very telling indicator of general compatibility on the web. It will also help you the next time a Mac head goes on rant over how much better Safari is than Chrome. You now have the tools you need to put him in his place.
A few days ago, we reported a novel attack on Will Wright's critically acclaimed title, Spore. The game, which comes inextricably chained to a monolithic slab of DRM, provoked a sea of gamers to crash headfirst into Amazon.com's user review section. Soon, the tides receded, taking with them all but a single star from Spore's user rating. Certainly, this demonstration of gamerly ire was more meaningful than a simple Internet petition, but those brave souls have yet to receive custom apology letters from EA with realistic-looking, printed-on signatures and tear blats, so a rousing success their movement was not.
Now, Forbes sends word that indignant gamers have peeled back their kid gloves to reveal cruel hooks. Where protest failed, they hope that theft will succeed.
"By downloading this torrent, you are doing the right thing," wrote one user going by the name of "deathkitten" on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. "You are letting [Electronic Arts] know that people won't stand for their ridiculously draconian 'DRM' viruses."
"You have the power to make this the most pirated game ever, to give corporate bastards a virtual punch in the face," deathkitten added.
In addition, the most-downloaded Spore tracker brings with it "step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble the copy protections, along with a set of numerical keys for breaking the software's encryption."
And it's not just embittered hyperbole. Chief Executive Eric Garland of Big Champagne, a peer-to-peer research firm, notes that deathkitten's tactics may very well be working. "The numbers are extraordinary," Garland said. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title."
But the question remains: Is this the right course of action?
The ubiquitous Zip file compression format has been a staple of PC users since it first made its debut as PKZIP in the early 90s. Back then, the size limitations of floppy disk media and the painfully low-bandwidth dial-up connections made file compression a complete necessity. The Zip format today, while still popular, has largely been eclipsed by RAR compression, which has offered slightly better compression at the cost of archiving speed. That’s why we were so surprised to hear that WinZip 12, which launched yesterday, boasted an unbelievable 25% compression ratio for JPEG images – without sacrificing image quality. Ever the skeptics, we put the new software to the test, and grilled WinZip’s VP of Development about how this new algorithm works.
Any bets as to whether WinZip's claims are justified?
If you enjoyed the first commercial starring Bill Gates and new OS pitchman Jerry Seinfeld (and judging by the comments in the accompanying news post, many of you did), then you're likely to be tickled by the latest installment, all agonizing 4 minutes of it (that's right, my PC brethren, I'm still not amused). Gates doesn't shake his tush in the latest Vista ad, but he does do the robot, or at least a 52-year-old semi-retired billionaire's version of the robot (admittedly not bad, all things considered).
The newest ad still stays mainly focused on trying to connect with current culture rather than outright attempting to whip Apple at its own game, which is to fight a battle of the OSes. But here's my beef - it's just not amusing, to me anyway. There are subtle (and some not so subtle) messages to be picked up on in both commercials, but just as I didn't find myself chuckling at the whole Shoe Circus setting, I'm equally unimpressed watching a couple of rich guys trying to coexist with the common folk (props to the spunky grandma, the sole shining star so far in this ad campaign). Taken to the extreme, as Gizmodo alludes to, the commercials' failure to live up to expectations ironically mimic the same characteristic that described Vista when it first debuted.
There's a particular line that stands out in this new commercial. After Gates and Seinfeld are caught stealing a leather giraffe, the man of the home tells the unlikely duo "I'm disappointed in the both of you." Me too.
Am I just being a hater, or are you guys and gals still digging these introductory commercials? Maybe I'm just bitter that Will Ferrell didn't end up with the role.
There's online storage, and then there's Dropbox. If you haven't heard of the latter, it's only the greatest thing to come to online storage since, well, ever. And now it's available to the public.
Dropbox purports to offer an easy way to share and store your files, but what makes Dropbox so unique is its ability to integrate with all your PCs, including Linux. It will even play nice with your Mac. Make a change to a file, and Dropbox will automatically update the changed file to any computer linked to your account. Not only that, but it will only transfer the part of the file that changed. Other goodies include the ability to designate shared folders, public folders for non-Dropbox users, drag-and-drop friendly, and AES-256 encryption.
Free accounts come with 2GB of storage, with a 50GB account available for $10/month, or $100/year.
A particular artist, album or user will be graphically depicted in the center of the screen and will be surrounded by related icons of those artists, albums or users that have influenced it. The Zune 3.0 software, MixView included, will be available to all window users for free – owning a Zune or Zune Pass subscription not required. More on Zune 3.0 when it comes out on September 16th, 2008.
Infantile search engine Cuil came out a cropper during its launch when it crumbled under the weight of its lofty promises – blame it on the copywriter’s strong imagination. But any startup needs some time, sans any distraction, before it can stake a claim for a place in the big league.
However, Cuil’s management will find it difficult to stay focused on its development roadmap for the time being. The startup has lost the services of its VP Product, Louis Monier, who has quit. Monier was an employee worth his weight in gold for Cuil due to his vast experience in the field of online search. It has been confirmed that there were “philosophical differences” between Monier and the Cuil bosses. A huge blow for Cuil as retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges for any startup.
If any internal software veers away from the normal pattern of operation, the Kernel almost freezes the system to scrutinize the cause of that anomaly. The effectiveness of this technique appears to completely rest on its ability to identify normal operational patterns. Although it is being touted as an alternative to anti-virus software, it is difficult to say at this stage whether it can actually replace anti-virus software. Anyways, an open-source application based on this method is now available for Linux.
In the last few months there have been a couple of pompous browser launches – FF3 and Chrome. But the launch of Opera 9.6 beta went largely unnoticed. In fact, Opera’s latest browser version failed to elicit any interest whatsoever. Its Opera 9.6 announcement felt like an inaudible whisper compared to Google’s bellowing Chrome marketing campaign. But Opera Software’s PR manager, Thomas Ford, offered a sanguine view of the entire situation to DailyTech. He took pride in the fact that Opera had managed to stay in business, despite the challenge offered by new entrants like Chrome. Ford pointed that Opera’s usage grew by 3% after Chrome’s launch.