Napster Embraces Mac Users

Although a court ruling may eventually seal the fate of controversial file-swapping service Napster, the company unveiled an official client for the Macintosh on Wednesday.

Dubbed Napster for the Mac, the software was developed by Blackhole Media, which had already been distributing its Macster clone of the popular service for months. Napster said it purchased Macster earlier this year.

According to both companies, Napster for the Mac is the official software version adapted for the computing platform.

“We’ve been working with Napster to guarantee that this latest release is up to their standards,” read an announcement on Macster’s site. “Now that we’ve reached that goal, we’re changing names and joining the company that is changing the world.”

Not a Copy Cat

Blackhole developers stress that the program will not sacrifice the Mac interface or become a cookie-cutter version of its PC sibling.

“We’re going to keep Napster for the Mac looking and acting like a Mac program should,” Macster said. “We’re not completely up to par with our Windows brother, but we’ll be there very soon.”

Developers also say that Mac users will see numerous improvements that will allow them to stay current with the PC version. The move will also bring Mac users more support, Macster said.

In addition to offering a choice of tool bar colors that match new iMac shades, the Mac client allows users to customize their list views, hide chat windows, and utilize drag-and-drop functionality to transfer music files between folders or the desktop.

Publicity Fuels Popularity

Of course, Mac users may not be able to enjoy the service for very long. Napster has been embroiled in a costly legal challenge with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which argues that file sharing cuts into recording industry earnings.

Earlier this year, a U.S. appellate court allowed Napster to remain online until the court case is completed, reversing a landmark shutdown ruling.

The spate of publicity resulting from the case has only fueled Napster’s explosive popularity. According to data released by Media Metrix three weeks ago, usage of the software application surged from 1.1 million users in February to 6.7 million users in August.

The spike represents a 506.8 percent increase, rendering the software the fastest growing home application ever tracked.

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