After Napster: Boys will be file-swappers
By Scarlet Pruitt
(IDG) -- Pushed by word-of-mouth and more than a few young men, file-swapping alternatives to Napster have experienced user growth of nearly 500 percent from March to August of this year. That's according to a report released by Jupiter Media Metrix.
Although free-file-sharing pioneer Napster has been mired in legal battles and kept offline since last July for copyright infringement, its successors are clearly on the rise. The number of unique home users of these file swapping alternatives has increased 492 percent, from 1.2 million in March to 6.9 million in August, Jupiter reports.
Napster alternatives Morpheus (operated by MusicCity Networks), KaZaA Media Desktop (a service of Consumer Empowerment, also known as FastTrack), and Winmx led the pack, with a high number of users between the ages of 12 and 17 and a strong male audience.
Morpheus had 2.3 million users in August, followed by KaZaA Media Desktop with 1.3 million users, and Winmx with 1.2 million users.
Morpheus experienced a 186-percent increase in users from June to August of this year, while KaZaA boasted a 157-percent increase, and Winmx swelled 91 percent over the same period.
Coming in at number four was file-swapping renegade Aimster, with 927,000 users in August, up 74 percent from June.
Collectively, 31 percent of the users of file-swapping alternatives were between the ages of 12 and 17, and 43 percent were males 18 and over. Twenty-six percent were females 18 and over. Aimster boasted the highest number of users between 12 and 17, however, with 41 percent of its audience near high-school age. Morpheus had the greatest number of males 18 and over at 47 percent.
Word-of-mouth is driving these new Napster alternatives, Jupiter analysts report, and as they grow, the value of their networks will increase as they gain more bandwidth and content.
This may be bad news for the major record labels and movie studios, struggling to keep control of their copyright content, as well as launching their own legitimate online services. In fact, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America teamed up to sue the operators of Morpheus and KaZaA, as well as MusicCity and Grokster earlier this month.
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