Rapster: Straight out of Brazil

MacNews Brasil's Rogério Taira reports on his country's first global software hit: a Mac client for Napster developed by a team of Brazilian teens.

São Paulo, Brazil -- Spurred by the Windows debut of Napster, the Mac community has dreamed up a variety of applications that let the platform's users get into the MP3-swapping act.

Among the top contenders is Rapster a free, "unofficial" Mac Napster client developed by a team of teenage Brazilian developers who call themselves the Overcaster Family. Still in beta testing, Rapster has already garnered more than 85,000 downloads worldwide and represents the first Brazil-developed application to spread so quickly around the globe.

Overcaster comprises five partners aged 16 to 18 located in several Brazilian cities. The idea of creating a Mac development team was hatched in an English class.

The first application the group developed was Dyou, a powerful and functional HTML editor designed for Web masters who need to post content in languages containing diacritical marks.

Rapster was the brainchild of Overcaster partner Roberta Zouain, who said she believed Rapster and Napster will endure despite current pressure from the recording industry. "Now that it's diffused, I guess there's no turning back," Zouain said. "How can they block the use of Napster?"

According to Overcaster, Rapster supports file downloads (including resumable downloads), searching, and a complete chat and private message system; it lets users employ a previously registered Napster account or register a new one. The team said it is also planning a server-side application and built-in MP3 player.

It joins Macster, another pre-release Napster client from Blackhole Media. Blackhole said the final version of Macster will be available this month.

Overcaster team coordinator Eduardo Foster said he's confident the Overcaster Family's Brazilian base won't prevent it from holding down a strategic corner of the Mac market. "There'll aways be a market for developers," Foster said. "After all, computers don't work alone.

"Of course, when it comes to developers, the international market is much stronger than Brazil's, and it is more focused on the United States, but the Mac market here is growing."

Foster said he's encouraged by Rapster's surprising acceptance -- mainly from the international market. "The experience was great; we learned a lot about how to release software, how to reach the widest public," he said. "We were very glad to see our efforts recognized, and we hope it has opened new doors for us to release other packages." Foster said that after Rapster's final release, the group will work to translate the package into other languages besides English.

Meanwhile, Overcaster is starting a new project called OBrowser (TheBrowser), although the developers were reluctant to provide details on the application.

The team also hopes to apply the lessons it's learned to corporate markets. "We need to expand a little bit more improve our reliability and organization," Foster said. "After all, developing a system [for corporate sites] is a bigger responsibility than developing shareware."

Rogério Taira is Webmaster of MacNews Brasil, Brazil's leading Mac Web site.