Napster has inked an agreement with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that gives all branches of the United States military access to the digital-music service.

Napster has inked an agreement with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that gives all branches of the United States military access to the digital-music service.

Through CentricMall.com, a password-protected Web site, more than 11.5 million active, reserve and retired military personnel and their families can receive specially discounted rates to Napster's subscription service and the Napster Light download store.

The deal comes two days after Roxio, Napster's parent company, announced it would sell the software component of its business to focus on Napster, which Roxio acquired in 2002. As part of the move, Roxio will change its name to Napster.

Josh Bernoff, analyst with Forrester Research, says that the company's new focus as a "pure play" puts them behind the eight ball in the competitive digital-music market, which already includes diversified companies like Apple Computer, Sony, Wal-Mart, RealNetworks and, soon, Microsoft, the Virgin Group and Viacom (MTV).

"Napster needs to break away from the pack," says Bernoff. "It has to prove it's in a position to do better than the rest, and it's not going to be based on its catalog, ease of use or portable music devices. They have to do it by signing up people in huge swaths with agreements like [this U.S. military deal]."

The CentricMall.com service will also accept the Military Star Card credit card to facilitate customer transactions.

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