Today Napster said that it has finally released all six million of its tracks in the unprotected MP3 format, following up on its announcement back in January. This means that consumers can buy any song from the company for 99 cents, and then play it in their car, on their cell phone, on their iPod or other portable MP3 player, without any restrictions or the technical compatibility issues that plagued digital rights management (DRM)-encoded tracks.
The company said that all six million MP3s will also come with the appropriate album art. This puts Napster on an even keel with the Amazon MP3 store and eMusic—actually ahead, in fact, since Napster’s catalog is more comprehensive than both of those services.
Somewhere in Cupertino, Steve Jobs must be fuming. (Backstory: He’s the one who first wrote the letter to the record industry asking for them to drop DRM. Now that the labels have finally acquiesced, with the exception of EMI, they’re leaving him out of it in order to bolster his competitors and reduce Apple’s influence.)