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Best Buy Buys Napster For $121 Million… Nobody Told Them That Napster Is So 2000

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Best Buy must really want in on digital music sales as it has agreed to pony up $121 million to buy Napster. That value represents $54 million net of approximately $67 million in cash and short-term investments in Napster as of June 30. In the end, it will net Best Buy 700,000 subscribers. Here’s Best Buy’s spin on why they’ve done this:

“We believe Napster brings us excellent capabilities in the mobility space, as well as international operations and an established team of technology experts,” said Dave Morrish, Executive Vice President – Connected Digital Solutions of Best Buy. “We can foresee Napster acting as a platform for accelerating our growth in the emerging industry of digital entertainment, beyond music subscriptions. We’re very excited to add these capabilities to leverage our existing relationships with the labels, the studios, and the hardware providers. We believe Napster will be an outstanding addition to our already robust portfolio of partners and offerings in the digital music space.”

Translation: If we want to get into this space and not get our butts handed to us by WalMart and iTunes we need to buy a name that people recognize and also give us marketshare so that we have some street cred.

I suppose that Best Buy can use Napster to sell hardware in the same manner that the Apple/iTunes monster does, or it can be used to drive additional revenue in the manner that the WalMart music store does. But one thing that they might not have considered is that Best Buy Canada/Future Shop tried this with the Bonfire music store and that failed miserably. Granted, the store was Puretracks with a custom skin on it, but still it highlights that it didn’t go so well for them before. What’s changed now?

Oh yeah, these are the same people who once decided it would be a good idea to sell “branded” mp3 players that had 128MB of storage  with a few music tracks on it for $169. Hmmm… uber-ghetto MP3 player with DRM’d tracks for more than the cost of an iPod? I wonder why that failed miserably?

I don’t expect this to work out any better.

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