Pushing that company value just a little bit higher, Napster has launched a joint venture service with Tower Records in Japan. The fifth service from Napster (US, UK, Canada and Germany) offers a 1.5 million song catalogue, three price points topping out at £9 and allows downloads to up to three computers and transfers to up to three compatibile digital music players.

Individiual downloads are retailing at the equivalent of 67p per track for international releases and 90p for Japanese releases.

The big challenge in Japan, the world’s second biggest music market, is to crack into mobile which far outstrips PC-based music activity, in fact far outstrips many forms of consumption in Japan. That space is dominated by local mobile operators. Napster Japan will require users to download additional software to access the music. On the plus side, Napster’s partnership with NTT DoCoMo should result in direct-to-mobile downloads, which would put it ahead of iTunes and others in that market.