Internet giant Google is in talks with digital music service Napster over an "extensive alliance" that could include an "outright acquisition," according to a Tuesday report in the New York Post, citing anonymous sources....Google has been in discussions with Napster to offer a digital music service, rather than start one on its own, the Post reported.
If the report is true, it raises some interesting questions about Google's position on digital restrictions management (DRM). Napster is a Microsoft PlaysForSure-compliant source of content. In other words, the company uses Microsoft's DRM to protect the content that's acquired through its online service. As was recently reported, Google now has its own DRM (or is that GRM?). If the acquisition is completed, how would the two be reconciled? For people using Napster's Napster-to-Go service, Google wouldn't have much choice but to stick with Microsoft's DRM because its own DRM isn't supported in any of the portable digital music players on the market. Unless Google has some other go-to-market strategy for its DRM (eg: maybe some devices with its DRM are coming to market) that isn't rising to top of mind. If Google keeps Microsoft's DRM, then that would be an unbelievable feather in Microsoft's cap. Imagine for example, Google's AdSense network driving people into the Napster music store where all the content is protected by Microsoft's DRM. Google would probably become one of Microsoft's biggest technology channels overnight. Advantage: Microsoft's media juggernaut.