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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Samsung to market Napster-branded music player

Samsung on Tuesday said it plans to co-market a new line of digital music players with the soon-to-be-relaunched Napster 2.0 service, in the latest move to stoke up its brand image among youthful consumers globally.

The announcement was just one of a nearly a dozen products ranging from mobile phones with tiny built-in television sets to huge TV screens being unveiled at the company's annual showcase here of new devices aimed at U.S. consumer markets this fall.

The new Napster-ready device will be available in retail stores this fall, Samsung said in a statement.

"Samsung is trying to do what Apple Computer has done with its iPod music players and iTunes online music store," said Michael Kelleher, an analyst with market research firm Yankee Group in Boston.

"Certainly if Napster can build itself up as a legitimate file sharing portal, then that's good for Samsung."

In its first incarnation, Napster provided a rogue music downloading service that captured the imagination of tens of millions of music fans.

The original company was snuffed out of business by a court order and its assets were purchased by Roxio, a maker of software for copying digital music, which plans to launch a legal Napster 2.0 music download service this fall.

The Samsung devices will be co-branded and identified as "Napster compatible" on the packaging. The 500,000 song titles will be available from all five major record labels and hundreds of independent labels, according to Roxio.

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