It’s taken a while but Napster has made it worthwhile waiting for its UK subscriber figures, posting an impressive 750,000 in the UK – almost double the latest public US subscriber number. The digital music service has followed its usual press policy of attempting to trump rivals’ announcements with one of its own: this time HMV and Virgin Digital with their respective launches as well as Apple/Motorola with their iTunes phone launch tomorrow were the target.

UK general manager Leanne Sharman also sought to hit the headlines with an ‘it’s only a matter of time before all music bought is downloaded’ claim. This was based on a self-slecting survery of subscribers, 20% of whom said they no longer buy CDs – not necessarily what the record labels want to hear mind you. Still the overall music pie has grown with the launch of digital music services.

Napster stated that 55 million tracks have been downloaded since May 2004, which by rough calculations would put it at about 50% of Apple’s UK sales – not too shabby. So, though a few marketing pounds may have been lost, HMV and Virgin Digital will probably be quite happy to hear Napster’s news.

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