Napster ups bitrates. Tough luck if you’ve already paid

I hate to say I told you so…

One of the things I don’t trust about digital downloads is the issue of quality: specifically, if you buy a not-great-quality 128Kbps file today because that’s all that’s available, what’s to stop the online shop from upping the bitrate a few months later to something more sensible – but charging full price if you want to upgrade?

So much for my cynicism. Microsoft Monitor reports that Napster US is upping the bitrate of its tracks from 128Kbps to 192Kbps. Guess what?

Napster customers with subscription accounts get the benefit of better quality with no loss. But people purchasing tracks, whether from Napster, iTunes or any other service, only have what they paid for. If the buying customer wants the higher-fidelity version, he or she has to pay up again.