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Napster Traffic Increases by 92%

The media spotlight on the Napster controversy has proved beneficial for their traffic. The internet ratings report from Nielsen/ NetRatings shows that Napster traffic rose by 92% in a three day period to peak at 849,000 unique home visitors on July 28th, the day that the court stay was granted.

On both Friday and Saturday the site broke the 800,000 unique visitors mark, which indicates that more than three percent of all active home Internet users were logging on to Napster. There has been a resurgence of new users also, as 22% of visitors to the site on Friday downloaded the Napster software. This is twice the average percentage of users who download the software.

The Internet-using public has certainly not lost interest in MP3 swapping. Many analysts are expressing their concern over the RIAA's handling of the controversy, pointing out that competing music swapping services such as Gnutella are not centrally organized.

"With Napster shut down, the record companies have no one to negotiate with as distributed trading architectures like Gnutella have no management team, facilities or place of business." according to the Gartner Group of analysts.

If Napster is shut down and the RIAA decides that they would like to continue their crusade against illegal music swapping, then their only option will be to go after individual users, and this could prove too time consuming.

The Gartner Group has also recently released a survey which shows that on average MP3 users purchase three more CDs in a six-month period than non-MP3 users. The survey was conducted in Feburary and canvassed 40,000 U.S. households.

"It's very clear that the segment of consumers that is purchasing significantly more CDs is also more receptive to digital distribution." According to Sujata Ramnarayan, a senior analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services Group.

The fate of Napster rests with the courts, but it is very unlikely that the powerful trend of MP3 file sharing can be stopped as indicated by the increased traffic to Napster. The public is likely to switch to competing file-sharing services.

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