updated 2/3/2005 4:14:20 PM ET 2005-02-03T21:14:20

Napster Inc. on Thursday unveiled the latest version of its music-downloading software, a portable subscription-based service that lets users legally download an unlimited number of songs to their MP3 players for a monthly fee.

With Napster To Go, which the company bills as the world's first subscription service for portable devices, users can access any of the tracks in Napster's music library and save them to a portable media player for $14.95 per month.

The subscription model challenges pay-per-download programs such as Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes, where customers must buy each individual song or an entire album.

Napster, originally among the first free file-sharing applications that spawned heavy opposition from the recording industry, is bolstering Napster To Go's release with a $30 million marketing campaign -- set to debut during Sunday's Super Bowl.

The advertising will focus on Napster To Go's compatibility with MP3 players from Creative Technology Ltd., Dell Inc. and Reigncom Ltd.'s iriver. Conversely, Apple's iTunes has been criticized because its compatibility is limited to its iPod player.

"Napster To Go provides infinitely greater value is much more exciting than the iTunes pay-per-download model," Chris Gorog, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Former software developer Roxio Inc. bought Napster off the auction block two years ago, and recently swapped its name after selling its digital media software business to Sonic Solutions.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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