Friday, November 22, 2013

AOL Closing Winamp Next Month

Winamp, a popular music player which has been playing tunes on peoples' computers since the late 90s, will no soon no longer be available for download. It was announced that after Dec 20, its owner AOL will close down it's website and no longer support the program.

Winamp was created by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev in 1997, who would found Nullsoft a year later. By that time, the player in it's various versions had been downloaded over three million times. By the year 2000, there were over 25 million users. By this time, it was now the property of a larger company. In June 1999, AOL bought up Nullsoft and Winamp for 80 million.

Winamp's fortunes began to decline after the introduction of iTunes, but a number of it's people blame AOL for it's problems. Rob Lord, it's first general manager, spoke in a 2012 interview, "There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is today if not for a few layers of mismanagement by AOL that started immediately upon acquisition." It is believed Winamp still brings in six million dollars a year in revenue.

Despite the problems, Winamp continued to see developments, and it's apparently remained popular with computer users. The news of the closure was announced within some Second Life groups, "… if you want to continue to use Winamp … it's advisable you download the latest version." Shockwave Yareach, a Second Life DJ, commented, "Pity, I use it a lot. (I) even bought the pro version. Best twenty bucks I ever spent, since the license is good permanently. … lots of DJs in Second Life use it." Of the company, Shockwave remarked, "I understand now what happened to Time-Warner/AOL. If your management can't make money with the Internet standard already in place, you shouldn't be in business."

This might not be the last word for the music player. There are stories of negotiations behind the scenes for a sale. And if the "servers do go dark, Winamp will likely remain available through BitTorrent and other unauthorized sources." Considering how in it's early days, Winamp was the player of choice of music downloaded through the controversial Napster file-sharing service, some of it's longtime fans might consider this an ironic fate.

Sources: CNN Money, Time Tech, Ars Technica,

Bixyl Shuftan

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