A lot of people are saying that Best Buys’ purchase of Napster was a bad idea. I disagree. This actually might be a great thing for Best Buy and it might just put Napster back on the map. And it’s really not the same as Blockbuster – Circuit City deal.
First of all, forget what Napster did in the past – it’s irrelevant. We’re not ignoring the past, we just are not going in that direction. Napster of 1998 is not Napster of 2008. I have a couple friends that still use the service and they have basically told me it’s no different than any other music service like Rhapsody or iTunes.
Next – Imagine what Best Buy can do with Napster. Something as simple as offering free music downloads with purchases. If you can get free music, why not go to Best Buy for a stereo, vacuum cleaner or computer?
Someone gets a new computer and you can install 100 of your favorite songs. Or even Geek Squad will do it for a little extra. Nice little perk for you to get a PC or Apple computer.
Because of this, I would expect the music section of Best Buy to shrink. Instead of selling CD’s, It would be prudent to focus on box sets and downloaded music. I could even see a Kiosk in the Best Buy to allow people to bring their MP3 players in to get more music.
Car Stereos could see the best benefit from this. You get a 30 gig hard drive MP3 player for your car and you get a 6 month subscription to Napster. You drive off with a new sound in your car and music to play while driving off.
I would also guess Napster will get an expansion of Video on their site. Music Videos, Live events, etc. Not sure if Movies would also be part of this, but it’s not impossible.
There is one thing I would suggest Best Buy do with Napster – Promote the free and low priced stuff. Local bands’ music, Podcasts, Videocasts, Books on Tape, etc. Set up a decent area so people can turn their Napster into a full Media experience.
This is not like the Blockbuster Circuit City deal. I could have definitely seen Blockbuster do the same thing, but with Napster, there’s a bit more flexibility. All that, and you don’t have to return the DVD’s to the store.
We should see a big push of this merger this holiday season. Retail has always had only one goal – make more money. This might just be the advantage to get people to get their holiday gifts from Best Buy rather than other online and retail stores.