Music swapping website Napster quadrupled its user base in the US to almost five million between February and July, representing the fastest-growing application ever tracked by a research company.
Internet and digital media measurement firm Media Metrix said the number of unique users visiting the Napster application climbed from 1.1 million in February to 4.9 million in July. This represents a whopping 345 per cent increase.
While the popularity of Napster soared among home users, the service also took off in the workplace. Napster more than doubled its 'users at work', from 417,000 in May to almost 887,000 US users in July.
Napster now ranks as the 43rd most popular home application, claiming more than six per cent of all US home PC users with a modem.
Hank Barry, Napster chief executive, said: "These figures, coupled with the significant increase in CD sales during the same period as recently announced by the Recording Industry Association of America, demonstrate the tremendous opportunity that Napster offers for music lovers and artists alike."
Bruce Ryon, senior vice president of Media Metrix's new media group, said while Napster has not yet gained the widespread popularity of other music-related applications, such as media players, it is proving to be a seminal application capable of rapid growth and influence on the sharing and distribution of music files.
"The key to Napster's success is that its users represent the full spectrum of PC users - not just the youth with time on their hands and a passion for music," said Ryon.
Media Metrix previously reported that Napster, in the middle of its legal woes, also saw a surge in web traffic that almost certainly came from the thousands of people following the front-page headlines.
In the first week of August, the company jumped from the number 31 spot online to the 19th most visited website.
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