Attention: before reading further, take a moment to rate the effects that talking about Winamp can have on nostalgia. The cold has already reached the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the recollection typical of these times, sofa times,
movie blanket is the most conducive for certain words to act as triggers for our memory. And I do not know in your case, but in mine Winamp of course is integrated into that list of words … let’s say dangerous.
Releasing on April 21, 1997 (24 years old, OMG…), Winamp became for many, including myself, the music player associated with the Internet. To be more exact, the music player that all Mp3 went through that, in those days, we all downloaded from the Internet. Yes, I’m talking about the times when if the connection wasn’t too fine, it could take more than half an hour to download a four-minute song.
For years, Winamp knew how to remain the first option to listen to music on the PC, despite the inexhaustible efforts carried out by Microsoft to ensure that its Windows Media Player gained in user share. There were other players as well, many actually, but none were able to steal the position from Winamp, which at the beginning of this century was installed, I would bet, on virtually any PC with an Internet connection.
The Winamp interface it was not, let’s be frank, an exercise in generosity with usability. 550 x 232 dots were sufficient to display the central player module, the 10-band equalizer, and the playlist. In his defense, it must be remembered that the resolution of the screens of those times was not what it is now. If memory serves me correctly, at that time I was working normally 1,024 x 768, and shortly afterwards at 1,154 x 864. Even so, if you didn’t use it at the time, you can believe me, it was very small.
What came next went tosome versions in which an attempt was made to make a substantial change to its design, the purchase of Nullsoft, its creative company, by AOL (remember, we are talking about the early 2000s, when the goal of America Online was that it was possible to travel the entire planet from CD to CD to Internet access) and, little by little little, a loss of personality, added to the evolution of other proposals, which formulated a long but inevitable decline, which made AOL announce its end in 2013. A march out the back door that certainly didn’t do Winamp’s story justice.
However, and as we are used to seeing in the technology sector, on many occasions a goodbye is actually a see you later, and Winamp was not going to be an exception. Shortly after the announcement that the show was no longer part of AOL’s plans, the Belgian company Radionomy bought it in 2014 and, in 2018, he announced that Winamp was ready to return, and that he would probably do so in 2019. However, 2019 passed and 2020 passed, and we did not hear from his plans again.
However, it seems that the plans had only been delayed, and as we can see on its website, Winamp SA, which is the new legal form of what was Radionomy at the time, finally seems to have stepped on the gas. On the new website, although we still cannot see images about what this reborn version of the software will be like, we can sign up to a list to participate in the testing program, opt for any of the job offers offered by the company and, what it is more interesting, trying to get an idea of what they plan. Although, I already warn you, it will not surprise anyone.
– Winamp (@winamp) November 19, 2021
And it is that the plans of its new managers pass, as we can deduce from what the website tells, for turning Winamp into a platform that allows artists to maintain more direct contact with their followers. In other words, we are talking about a new platform in which probably, and following Apple’s model, we will find a multimedia player, a music store and a streaming service, in which in addition to music we can also find podcasts.
Does this move make sense in 2021? It’s really hard to say. On the one hand, it may seem too late to join a market whose current players are already well established, and they have a fierce fight between them. Now, what happens if you try, for example, to target a very specific niche? Maybe there he could have a chance. However, beyond that, I find it difficult to think that nostalgia is sufficient motor to provide a second youth to Winamp. And look, I’m nostalgic.