Napster has thrown down the gauntlet, launching a 6-million track DRM-free store with music from all the major labels. Amazon and Apple will both be worried as they certainly can’t match that offering but both at least offer auto-sync of your non-iTunes music with the all-powerful iPod.

It could be a final throw of the dice for the company which is still losing money but hoping to draw in the more lucrative subscribers with the move. The Napster board is coming under pressure with some shareholders attempting to get on the board and the share price lingering around a very low $1.65.

Seems strange that Napster, which was built on MP3 files and offering great software in its original incarnation has made such a fundamental error in making users manually move their music – doh!

Apple can only offer 2 million tracks through its market-leading proposition and the labels are holding out on allowing any more control to slip into Steve Jobs’ hands. It’s going to take some super Steve negotiating skills to open this one up.

Variable iTunes pricing anyone?