Napster use falls by fifth, report finds

April 30, 2001|By Jon Healey | Jon Healey,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Napster Inc., the embattled online song-swapping service, lost about 20 percent of its users after it started deterring searches for hit songs from major record companies, according to research by Jupiter Media Metrix.

Even so, Napster remains one of the most popular destinations on the Internet.

The survey by Jupiter, a technology research and consulting company, also found an increase in activity at two other sites offering file-sharing software, BearShare and Aimster.

Analyst Dannielle Romano of Jupiter said that despite the drop, 18 percent of Internet users in the United States visited Napster's Web site, www.napster.com, or used its music-sharing system last month.

Napster usage grew swiftly last year and early this year after the major record labels and music publishers sued for copyright infringement.

At its peak in February, Napster's file-sharing system and Web site attracted 17 million U.S. users, or almost 20 percent of those who went online that month. Of that number, 15.2 million logged onto the Napster system, in which users can download songs from one another's computers.

On March 4, Napster started trying to block users from searching for songs whose copyrights were claimed by major record labels and music publishers.

By the end of last month, Jupiter's research found, about 3 million fewer people had logged onto the Napster system than in the previous month. Romano said the main factor was the "shrinking breadth of content" available.

While Napster was losing users, Jupiter's survey estimated that BearShare.com had climbed to 520,000 visitors and Aimster.com grew to nearly 300,000.

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