Llama Llama, red pajama, reads a story with his mama… and according to this story in Techcrunch today, Winamp might be coming back next year as version 6—but just like this paragraph, it doesn’t make any sense.
Techcrunch interviewed Alexandre Saboundjian, the CEO of Radionomy, the company that bought the rights to Winamp. He talked about creating a new music player that can connect to Spotify, Google Music, podcasts, Audible, play your MP3s, and have a search feature that let you use all of it. Sounds… a little too good to be true, right?
They noted that last month, a long-awaited beta update to Winamp leaked online, bringing the version up from 5.666 to 5.8, fixing a truckload of shortcomings in the app, and changing it to freeware. The only problem is that it was leaked completely anonymously and distributed on a pretty shady site (we wouldn’t recommend downloading it anywhere but a VM). Still, any potential for a new version of Winamp got people really excited.
But later in the article, this curious paragraph makes us wonder:
The planned version of Winamp for iOS and Android will be that place, Saboundjian claims. On desktop, “the war is over,” he said, and between the likes of iTunes and web apps, there’s not much room to squeeze in. But mobile audio is fractured and inconvenient.
So… maybe… there might be a desktop Winamp update to version 6, but it sounds like the real effort will be in creating a completely new mobile application and slapping the Winamp name on it. Because the “war is over” for desktop anyway.
Too Good To Be True?
Here’s the thing: creating a new mobile application that connects to Spotify, Google Music, Audible, and has a cohesive experience across the board… is pretty unlikely to happen. What would compel Spotify to hand over their music library to another application? How’s that going to work? Would you really subscribe to Spotify and pay for Winamp? Seems unlikely.
Winamp was always an application that appealed to the MP3 collector who loved to tweak everything and organize into playlists. But it could never handle a massive library—in my experience it would crap itself after adding as little as 5000 songs—so huge hoarders switched to foobar2000 a long time ago, and everybody else just took the path of least resistance and started using iTunes, and then many switched to streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, or any of the others.
And you can’t use Winamp as a mobile application to listen to your MP3 library without a huge hassle. How are you going to get a library of files onto your phone? Trying to move files to your iPhone hasn’t exactly been an easy experience.
Listen, I really don’t want to be a downer. I have a special place in my heart for Winamp. I was the person that wrote the geekamp.dll module for the alternate LiteStep shell almost 20 years ago so you could use global hotkeys to control your music. My extremely simple code was ported into all sorts of places until eventually, Winamp got powerful global hotkeys built right in.
But the fact is, desktop is dying, and mobile is taking over. And most people don’t listen to music the way they did in the late 90s or early 2000s—the popularity of YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music illustrate that. The one thing that could save Winamp on the desktop—releasing it all as open source—doesn’t appear to be happening. And it’s pretty unlikely that even if Winamp 6 does come out, that they will be able to build a sustainable business that can really whip the llama’s ass.