Remember Winamp? The one media player to play all your MP3s back in the day that had the ability to create playlists as well? Well, this year is the 15th birthday for it, and it went from a must have program on your computer to complete obscurity. So how did it end up like that?
Ars Technica has a feature exploring that phenomenon. Here's an excerpt:
Prior to Winamp, there wasn't much available beyond Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. But none of those players could, in the mid-1990s, do something as basic as playlists, much less visualizations and custom skins, nor were they as tightly and efficiently programmed as Winamp. Even today, the Mac version of the Winamp installer is only 4.2MB; by comparison, the iTunes Mac installer comes in at a whopping 170MB.
The Windows Advanced Multimedia Products (WinAMP) player was released to the world on April 21, 1997. The next year, when its parent company Nullsoft formally incorporated, Winamp became $10 shareware. But no one pays for shareware, right? Wrong.
"Nothing ever was broken [if you didn't pay], there was no feature that was unlocked," Rob Lord told Ars. "In that year before we were acquired, we were bringing in $100,000 a month from $10 checks-paper checks in the mail!"
Winamp was a huge success, so much that it made it easy to rip, store and manage music all from one place. Eventually, AOL acquired the company in June 1999 in a range of $80 - $100 million. But with horrendous mismanagement, the story is as what we know it to be today.
"There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is in today if not for a few layers of mismanagement by AOL that started immediately upon acquisition," Rob Lord, the first general manager of Winamp, and its first-ever hire, told Ars.
Justin Frankel, Winamp's primary developer, seems to concur in an interview he gave to BetaNews. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.) "I'm always hoping that they will come around and realize that they're killing [Winamp] and find a better way, but AOL always seems too bogged down with all of their internal politics to get anything done," he said
Then came iTunes, which pretty much replaced Winamp. Over time, interests in it waned, and its development staff left as well. Check out the full article over at: [Ars Technica]