Napster's music-sharing service is a model for the next generation of music distribution, according to AOL-Time Warner chief Gerald Levin.
Along with other top executives involved in a Fortune panel discussion in Hong Kong, Levin also expressed high hopes for internet and IT industry development outside the US.
Levin said Napster has pointed the way to network-based delivery of content, which will be the future direction of both music and other entertainment delivery.
"The value of Napster now it's being legally tamed and put in a box is essentially to be the first of a new [music and other digital content distribution] model that I can access at any time with any handheld instrument," Levin said.
The leader of one of the world's largest media conglomerates prefaced his praise for the Napster model by saying that the peer-to-peer model runs afoul of legal principles. He envisioned music being accessed from a user's "digital locker", probably on a subscription basis. This is all curiously akin to AOL Time Warner's own plans, of course.
"The fundamental culture is all about subscriptions. Following the recent merger of AOL and Time Warner, we actually have 133 million subscriptions", Levin said.