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You can't say Napster isn't popular. The latest usage statistics, unveiled yesterday by online market researcher Media Metrix, shows the number of US home-based users the MP3 sharing software increased six-fold between February and August.

At the start of the year, Media Metrix found that just over 1.1 million people accessing the Net from US homes had used Napster's software at least once. By August, that figure had risen to 6.7 million, an increase of around 506.8 per cent.

The number of users accessing the service from their place of work hit 1.2 million in August, said Media Metrix.

Since it began offering its music-sharing software and service, Napster claims to have had around 32 million users in total. Media Metrix's numbers, for home and work, puts the total at 28.5 million, but that doesn't take into account users outside North America.

Still, Napster has a long way to go to match the usage of the various PC-based media players, such as Windows Media Player QuickTime Player and RealPlayer, which had over 38 million unique users in August alone, according to Media Metrix's numbers.

Recent stats from Webnoize puts Napster download activity at 1.4 billion songs in September. Allowing for around 40 per cent growth in user numbers between August and September - the increase between July and August was 30 per cent, according to Media Metrix - that means each users downloaded around 127 songs each. No wonder the Recording Industry Association of America is pissed off... ®

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