Napster is yet to sign UK deals with any of the five major labels – despite the company insisting last week that will have a legal download service in the UK this summer, claim reports.

In an interview with UK national newspaper The Independent Napster CEO Chris Gorog reveals he is yet to tie-up deals with the Big Five. Apple has been working to secure similar deals for over a year in order to launch its iTunes Music Store in Europe.

The newspaper reports: "Napster seems to be first in the publicity stakes, but liable to be second into the business.

"Napster appears to have a lot of ground to make up. In fact, the only thing that could be seen as working in its favour is its famous name," the reporter adds.

Gorog is "optimistic" that the company will sign-up all five major labels. "It would be a very difficult decision to launch without all five".

Napster v Apple Gorog goes on to talk about the US market where Napster is way behind Apple's estimated 75 per cent of the market.
"Apple's success in that market is in part because Apple was first to market, entered the market seven months before Napster, with a device [the iPod] that has trapped its audience so that there's no place for it to go other than iTunes.

Another reason for Apple's success in Gorog's opinion is that: "Macintosh users are historically early adopters of technology, and the online music business is still in the stage of early adoption."

Gorog again attacks Apple for not supporting the Windows Media Audio format (WMA). "We believe Apple is very vulnerable for the reason that its service is available only to people with an iPod. If you buy an iPod, you're trapped in the iTunes store. That's like being told that you can only go into HMV's store, and never Virgin."

Writer of the article Charles Arthur disagrees: "The weakness in this argument is that if both HMV and Virgin sell the same repertoire, who cares which store you're locked in? What matters now is visibility. Napster lost a big opportunity late last year: HP had been about to sign a deal that would put Napster on every HP computer. That didn't happen - and instead in January HP signed with Apple to pre-install the iTunes software on its machines, and resell the iPod."

Of this, Gorog said: "I don't know what you're referring to. We never comment on deals that were in negotiation; that were or were not in negotiation."