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America Online

AOL acquires WinAMP, Spinner, SHOUTcast 284

kriston writes "AOL has just acquired the MP3 [?] player WinAmp, the Spinner Networks online music service, and SHOUTcast streaming audio software." Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.
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AOL acquires WinAMP, Spinner, SHOUTcast

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  • This is very shocking news. It seems all that AOL touches turns to crap and I have a bad feeling about the winamp player. It would be just like AOL to put banner adds or something equally as annoying in winamp as they have with AOL IM. If this isn't motivation to switch to the penguin I don't know what is.
  • A real OS? Why would any Linux, Unix, *BSD, et al user run AOL? Why should they waste resources porting it to Linux when nobody would use it?

  • Ever hear of Sonique? []

    gotten pretty nice lately
  • by zaks ( 33796 )
    Did you ever read the Winamp credits? Right now they are full of stunt coordinators, llama wranglers, and assistants to Fifi. There's even someone credited as a "Big Biz Exploiter" - now that will cease to be a joke.

    Needless to say, the next WinAmp will have zero personality, just like AOL itself. And that's if we're lucky. If we're not, it will have ads and require a lengthy login during which you disclose your yearly income and toaster preferences.

    Bye, llama, we're sure gonna miss you.
  • My jaw fell through the floor her as well. It
    is really insane that something like this would
    happen. I guess if the money is right you can
    buy anything.

    But why oh why would they go and sell themselves
    to AOL? AOL of all the companies that could have bought them? eek!

    The big fish always eat the smaller fish. But I just want to see a horde of small vicious pirhana gut the big fish to the bone. Is that too much to ask?
  • Damn, I shoulda suspected things were headed that way when they got into that whole mini-browser thing with content... But the funny thing is, that there is a really neat trend emerging here to doing business online... A bunch of computer wizzes have a cool idea to make a nice free program; Once the beta is out and everyone likes it, they try making money on it, but can't; They sell it to AOL without making any money on it. Now if I could only think of a good easy to develop utility that everyone will not mind down;oading for free, I could make myself a cool 300Mil...
  • Nullsoft and are defendants in a lawsuit brought by PlayMedia, alleging copyright infringement in the use of the AMP playback engine, according to CNET []. I don't think this lawsuit involves the RIAA.
  • @Home has a better chance than AOL. Where I live, it's got a monopoly on broadband internet, on account of the cable monopoly. AOL has to hope the cable monopoly gets overturned or start laying pipe.

    There are times when it is necessary to speak.

  • Here is the list of 25 most popular files on Can you spot any other potential AOL acquisitions on this list?

    1 ICQ - Seek out friends and colleagues on the Internet

    2 Winamp - Play MP3, MP2, CD, MOD, and WAV audio files

    3 WinZip - Handle ZIP files with ease

    4 Webshots Desktop - Put a new photo on your desktop every day of the year

    5 DevPower FlatBttn (Visual Basic 5.0) - Add a flat-style button to forms or Web pages

    6 Netscape Communicator - Browse the Web and more with the latest version of Communicator

    7 Sonique popular - Enjoy MP3, CD, WAV, MOD, and WMA audio with impressive visuals

    8 Microsoft Internet Explorer - Surf the Net with the latest version of this popular browser

    9 ICQ (without MFC DLLs) - Seek out friends and colleagues on the Internet

    10 CuteFTP - Transfer files with this FTP client

    11 Go!Zilla - Manage your downloads and schedule them for convenient times

    12 NetZIP Deluxe - Download, unzip, and install software automatically with a suite of file
    compression utilities

    13 AudioCD MP3 Studio - Make your own audio CDs out of MP3 files

    14 NetSonic - Access your favorite sites more quickly when browsing the Web

    15 WindowBlinds - Change the look and feel of Windows

    16 Phantom Sonique - Try a Phantom Menace-themed MP3 player

    17 DirectX Drivers - Install this 32-bit gaming requirement for Windows 95/98

    18 A Nightmare on Sesame Street - Take Ernie and Bert on a violent rampage

    19 PowerUp 98 Deluxe - Fine-tune your Windows configuration

    20 RealPlayer - Enjoy streaming audio and video on the Web

    21 Waterfalls - Relax in front of this photo-realistic waterfall screensaver

    22 GetRight - Resume downloading a file after a disconnection

    23 McAfee VirusScan - Protect your system with cutting-edge antivirus technology

    24 ICQ Plus - Customize the appearance of ICQ

    25 Adobe Acrobat Reader - Read Adobe PDF files from the Web

  • Screw Microsoft. Kill AOL.
    BTW, does anyone know of a Win32 MP3 player that supports the AMD K6-2 3DNow! instructions like Nitrane does(did)?

  • (This is biased, you have been warned)

    ive been running x11amp since version .9 (.7 didnt like SMP boxes..), it has crashed (its still in dev, of couse its gonna crash), but for it to take down your entire system? sounds like a bug in OSS, or are you running x11amp as root?

    (if i really wanted to be an ass, i could blame it on a shitty OS that allows a user process to crash the box, but ive never ran *BSD, so im just gonna keep my mouth shut on it)
  • {off-topic}

    Hmm, if Bell Atlantic is so concerned about getting DSL to paying customers, they could expand their service areas a little quicker... I'd like some sort of fast Net access, and I'd rather go with BA than Media General.

    -Waiting for my DSL line outside of Falls Church-
  • It's hard to believe, but remember what happened to HotMail - nobody believed that Microsoft would pay $400 million (see Wired story: HotMale []).
  • I don't think AOL is taking any risk in compeating with Microsoft. Microsoft's biggest concern, with regards to AOL, is makeing sure that AOL does not make Netscape the default browser for their ~15 Million customers. So far AOL is keeping IE as the default browser. As long as IE stays put, MS will be happy.
  • And, as an investor in AOL, all I can say is this: Smart move. So far as I can tell, AOL is not stupid. I never really cared for them aquiring Netscape - that browser is becomming more dead every day. But AOL is very good at aquiring the best things out there... and so far they haven't screwed them up either. Take a look at the memory footprint of ICQ, and compare it to the older version. It has gotten a lot better, though I don't care for the ton of new bells and whistles. (reminds me of the ICQ home page.. ugh.) All the techies out there shouldn't be scared. They will always have their open source OS, and their favorite ISP's, etc. AOL provides a service that other's don't have, and for this, they are valuable.
  • ..because I have a sinking feeling that AOL is going to monkey with it privacy-wise.

    so what has AOL done to ICQ?

    have the gone lawsuit happy against all the free ICQ clones? have you seen any AOL spam via ICQ? (well there is spam from spoofed UIN's but that's more likely from the free ICQ clients!)

    at first I was afraid that I'd see the mandatory AD-space in the next version of ICQ...

    but hey, that doesn't make sense!

    if AOL was smart... they'd leave all these free things alone... free web browser... free music player... free message sender...

    everyone LOVES FREE STUFF!!! so if AOL is the sole owner of all the free stuff that everyone loves than they can make it happily play allong with their own proprietary software...

    there are so many free mp3 players and ICQ and AIM clones and replacements out there (not to mention mozilla) that if AOL ever tried to convert any of this stuff to a proprietary product they'd have horrendous competition....

    I may be a little too optimistic but it isn't totally inconcievable that AOL will free up the lisences of winamp and ICQ (after they plug the security holes)

    let's see... buying netscape (mozilla)... getting ICQ... BSD rumors... next winamp....

    every step AOL takes in the non-proprietary direction is a step closer to the mindshare that has traditionally found AOL abhorrent (and made it the laughing stock of the internet)

    if AOL decides to take this path I think it can be good for all parties involved...
  • Well, as long as I can rent a T1 and get Linux for free, there will be at least one ISP keeping it real ;)
  • [ed note. this one rambles a bit, but stick with me, it has a payoff]

    The simple fact is this...Much of the value systems found in folk who care about the net is absent from the mainstream masses who are now the majority of the net.

    But who the hell wants to be mainstream? If your looking at being a pseudo geek, some modern day wanabe who wears the right clothes, speaks the right speak and uses all the Hip Appz the you are doomed to loose. You will always be exposed for the utter lamer you are.

    Things were a bit different when the implemntation of advancement was in the hands( wether by procalim,dictate, or by stealing them) of the people doing the grunt work of building the code. Back then you could be a vlaue to the growth or a bystander to it or a particpant in its day in day out evolution in one of a million ways.

    Now its suits, roots for hire, and loots. Money talk and jihads are nice PR. People feel that by using the right appz they are "netSavy" or tht by being seen reading the right mags they will be "in". Dont worry that you cant understand, or even try to , 3/4 of the Linux Journal you walk around the office with. Dont worry that if push came to shove you wouldnt be able to get your rig back up and running without a whinny call to Tech Support.

    Which lead us to the point, that being about Winamp being snatched up by AOL.

    SO WHAT.

    If you are on /. and are the salve of one particular brand name, you are doomed to loose. If you are so weak as to let other people force you to use softs and apps not of your liking, and let yourself be trapped in a closed system hell, then you are doomed to loose.

    When winamp came up it was heralded as the great saviour of the music distro sceen, and it was. It had its glory and is now moving to another phase. I say fucking great, congrats to the AZ boys and gals and I hope you save a little of the cash for your golden years.

    To those that need to be on the bleedig edge of NonCorporate living its time to get a new mp3 player. BIG FUCKING DEAL. There are a whole slew of em and more comming out.

    The folks at Nullsoft did thier thing, they got in the dirt and built something that was of use to the nets growth and use. Nothing can take that away from them. They did it, and if your gooing to belittle that fact, ask yourself ...what have you done to make the net a better place?

    Mirror time folks. The Nullsofties and folks like them deserve to take their creations and do what they want with them. Nothing is stopping the folks at Kjofol or Sonique or Icecast from taking up the ball. Nothing at all.

    Its the net, and its a big old tumble of fun. If you cant stand the chaos, go get an AOL disk and enjoy the massmarket version of it; beacuse honey, its gonna be a bumpy ride and I dont want to be dealing with your getting sick everytime we hit some turbulence.

    Onward folks and keep your eyes on the prize
  • Just a misgiving here, but if AOL has NullSoft, they would also own the copyrights associated with the WinAmp player . . . right?

    Given that X11Amp uses the exact same user interface as WA, it seems conceivable that AOL could order a "cease and desist" for use of their UI graphic design (whereas Justin/former_NullSoft would probably not have cared, given that Windoze is his territory)

    If AOL is seeking exclusivity over the WinAMP brand name/image, that might be a likely Step 2 . . . .
  • Like someone else said, about the best thing about IE over Netscape is using IE to read Slashdot, because it "backs" up discussion threads as one would think it should be implemented.

    And until it's done use the middle button.

  • Look, if AOL walked up to MY door with a sack full of money, I wouldn't turn 'em away. In my opinion, grousing about somebody else "selling out" is restricted to people who haven't been given the opportunity to sell out. If it gives the ppl at Nullsoft the financial scratch to go do something else cool, bully for them! I like Winamp a lot. It's feature rich, nicely modular, and well-supported. However, there are only so many features you can throw at an audio app before it becomes bloaty, and I think that Winamp might be nearing that cusp. Bully for them if they sold it and want to go do something new. (Like, say, sailing to Barbados or whatever...that's what I'd do!)

    If it was Microsoft's sack full of money, on the other hand, I'd find a big dog to feed 'em to. A guy's got to have his standards! : )
  • I originally saw an article on about this today.. and there it was stated that the lawsuit was "settled out of court on May 28th"..

    So My guess? They took the cash (or atleast some) from the AOL deal (sell that stock baby!) and paid off Nitrane/and/crew....

    Any problem will go away.. provided you have enough $$cash$$ to throw at it. :)
  • Icecast's MP3 "shout" client runs just fine on my Mac. Oh, by the way, it's running MacOS X. :)
  • So let's review here: AOL has "content solutions" via its software and WinAMP. Apple has "content solutions" via Quicktime (which plays MP3s, btw). Microsoft has "content solutions" via Windows Media Player (or whatever their latest attempt is called) and Microsoft Audio (which DOESN'T play MP3s). AOL has the Sun/Java platform behind it, Apple has MacOS/MacOS X behind it, and Microsoft has Windows behind it.

    Looks like the convergence wars have 3 sides.

  • i have. Couple it with OSS, and you've got a product that'll take down your system faster than ever imagined possible. I'm sorry, but when an mp3 player can take down FreeBSD, it's total crap.

  • There'll be no battle. RIAA already accepts MP3, they just want it
    copy protected (i.e. they want to remotely control your music
    assets, REGARDLESS of format). Thus expect AOL to build RIAA
    approved switches and triggers into their MP3 clients. If you
    have no pirated MP3s, do not exchange music with friends and
    do not rip CDs for personal use then you shouldn't care. I take that
    back, you will almost certainly have your privacy violated by AOL
    if you use their software, with or without RIAA involvement.
    In short, if you love you DIVX player, you'll love the new AOL offering.
  • My take on this would be "He cares, but not *that* much". He's sold the company, not his soul - yes, there may be anti-competitive clauses about him not leaving and writing any other MP3 players for a bit, but he's still free to persue a life of religious fulfillment (or whatever), and he's also a considerable amount richer than before. I'd be happy :)
  • Who cares about WinAmp? Winamp is to mp3 like Redhat is to Linux. Besides, it has a crappy hard-to-read UI and only one good plugin (Cthugha) . The thing to be more concerned about is ShoutCast. The potential of this technology, along with it's current distribution model, makes it an awesome thing to behold. Will they leave it alone, start charging site licensing fees? Buy up the makers of mp3spy (and as a result, Gamespy 3D), and stick AIM in for the chat feature?

    AOL's history with acquisitions so far is "don't touch a good thing" (and this is an actual quote from somewhere).
  • If they start bundling AOL Instant Messenger with WinAMP, I will vomit. What in gods name made Nullsoft sell out to AOL?!

    P.S.: My jaw isn't coming back up for a while.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Who worries about MicroSUCK ruling the world? If they go on at this rate, AOL will *own* the world. Already three pieces of software I use every time I boot Windoze (and one I use in linux) are owned by them...

    Just as everyone was getting bored of Bill Gates as Satan, here comes AOL.

  • Your thesis breaks down when Microsoft products are considered.

    That is really not the same thing. The quality of Micros~1 products has not gone down, since it has never been up. People had to buy crap from Micros~1 when that was the only you could get without spending too much money. So many simply accepted the fact that the OS was supposed to crash once every hour, and didn't know it could be any other way.

    Now more and more are starting to use alternative systems such as Linux, but windows will live a while longer on people buying it out of habit.

  • It's not purely monopolization that we have to worry about. It's only natural to assume that some companies will try and merge with, or aquire, all the companies that they can. Granted, I still think Microsoft has it's head up it' know. But what worries me is...what do you think will happen when AOL gets it's hands on the most popular mp3 player? Is AOL going to buy into the whole anti-mp3 campain, are we going to have to pay for it? The acquisition of winamp and shoutcast by a conglomerate makes me shudder, because there's no end to what they can do to what has, up to now, been one of the joys of expression of music. Oh well..we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.
  • Spank me if I'm wrong, but AOL doesn't own Mirabilis or anything ICQ-related. They make Instant Messenger, which I believe is in direct competition with ICQ for the ytalk GUI market.
  • more money = better development ?

    lets compare..

    Windows=lots of money=not too stable
    FreeBSD, Linux=free=very stable

    so you're saying winders is better than FreeBSD/Linux, etc because they spent more on it ?

    see where I'm coming from ?

  • It seems ignorant and misguided.

    Three other posts have already voiced pretty clearly my opinion. No one 'sold out'. WinAMP is a product, a service, and a neat gadget. It is fully within the ethical, moral, legal, and reasonable bounds for Justin and crew to sell WinAMP to AOL, or even to Sun, Microsoft, or Apple if they so chose. It is not in AOL's court to do something cool and productive with their handful of gadgets; maybe legitamize mp3s in a way the Rio cannot, but selling CDs, services, and other goods by offering free mp3 content from AOL music broadcast servers, or something equally innovative.

    Or they do something stupid, and team Nullsoft gets a nice paycheck, and AOL loses a bunch of respect and money.

    Good for team Nullsoft! Way to go!

  • AOL is now getting to the point of being the phone company, television station, magazine publisher and radio station all rolled into one. the still don't even support NT much less any real OS.
  • I wonder what the consequences will be for the lawsuit against and Nullsoft? AOL certainly has very deep pockets, lots of lawyers, and the willingness to use them.
  • Sonique...
  • Scary that AOL owns three of four, eh? I think so....

    Why is that scary? There are plenty of instant messanger clients, MP3 players, UnZippers and Browsers in the world... who cares if AOL is buying the most popular ones. If the quality goes down, people will switch in droves.

    If I were AOL it certainly makes a hell of a lot more sense to buy ICQ than say, Tribal Voice, or Netscape instead of Opera, or Nullsoft instead of whoever makes Sonique..
  • ...probably about as many people who have downloaded IE for HP/UX and Sloaris.

    Do I worry? No, because I have no plans to install it. Like someone else said, about the best thing about IE over Netscape is using IE to read Slashdot, because it "backs" up discussion threads as one would think it should be implemented.

    But that's about it.
  • Darn.

    And the only ONLY cool about the Winamp login, which will be sorely missed...Was the wonderful greeting...Winamp really whips the llamas ass. I can't wait until there's some stupid AOL idiot-fuck saying "Welcome to AOLAMP"

    This is a sad day for cool programs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Almost there. What about this little tidbit? Check out Katt's article on IE/Linux.,43 51,403830,00.html

    "...Redmondians are staffing a development team to work on a new Linux version of Internet Explorer."
  • I don't know why, but AOL is annoying...
    This brings a couple things to mind:
    1.) What is AOL's track record with these buy-outs? How has AOL affected the stuff they have bought? Until a couple months ago, I was an avid Netscape user, but I noticed little difference after AOL bought them out. Can anyone tell me if AOL ruined Netscape? The same goes for ICQ. ICQ99 got kind of annoying with its plethora of options previously unavailable in ver98, but at least most of them could be optioned out so they don't clutter everything up. I'm only asking because I haven't yet noticed any adverse effects from AOL sticking its nose in these areas, but then again I might not be paying close enough attention.
    2.) Has anyone noticed the 2-party trend?
    AOL M$
    --- --
    netscape ie
    winamp media player
    icq future m$ messenger

    it seems like everything is getting swallowed up by either side, like the U.S. two-party gov't. Repubs:Dems::AOL:M$.

    Agree? Disagree? A little help, please.
  • Your naivete is kind of refreshing, but, at the same time, naive. It doesn't matter that WinAMP is a successfull product, they just bought it for, as you said, the name recognition. SHOUTCast and WinAMP give AOL a big name in the MP3 market, but that doesn't mean that they won't be murdered with a quickness. It's standard corporate fare; buy a superior product, milk it for a little while, and then turn it into crap.

    And, as far as Spinner is concerned, I'd be amazed if they didn't turn into crap. AOL isn't seeking to do this, but it's the sort of thing that happens when a big company who fears its customers begins to run a radio station. It's just like the consolidation in the real radio market right now, it just leads to mediocrity. Why would they focus on Drum and Bass or Acid Jazz when 78% of their listeners prefer Britney Spears because all of their traffic will be surfing in from AOL? It's the Almighty Buck and AOL anything but ignores that. AOL isn't scared of "selling out" or anything to that effect, they're just in it for the quick dollar.

    WinAMP will be turned into crap, SHOUTCast will probably remain good, and Spinner will slowly get shitty as some CEO realizes "I don't like that rap music, we need more 50's" or something to that effect.

    And, well, as for Nullsoft being the little guy, they just gave up. If Justin Frankel is still at AOL in two years I'd be amazed. It's like Netscape selling out to AOL; sure, they revolutionized the world, but this is like admitting defeat. AOL will bring in their better trained, better brainwashed coders and Nullsoft will be worked out of the mix slowly. Or if not, the Nullsoft people will go nuts because they're unable to handle the corporate structure above them. I don't see how anybody could go from running their own startup to working at AOL; it'd be complete culture shock. I know that I, working at a startup, would quit the day that we sold out to a company like AOL.

  • Anyone notice how much AOL's logo looks like the infamous eye in the pyramid? Think about it.
  • It seems AOL is preparing to take on Microsoft.

    I know that sounds like paranoia but consider this: AOL paid out major dollars for Netscape, then said "No we won't use it." Yeah, right, we believe you. They said they didn't want to hurt the relationship with Microsoft that gives them an icon on the Win98 desktop.

    So they spend $800m(?) or something just to save little buddy Netscape and with no thought of business advantages - aside from the relicensing of Netscape server products to Sun, which has just recently announced dropping it's own Web server sw in favour of Netscape, which is owned by AOL with whom Sun took out their "I'll scratch my back you scratch mine" deal regarding hw in exchange for advertising. Who bought *that* story? Sun wanting to do some $400m of advertising directed exclusively to AOL clients? Ha ha ha ha [head falls off in embarassment]

    So we can assume AOL *will* use Netscape. I recall reading something about the next version of the AOL client being "fully HTML compliant". Their deal with Microsoft would have expired by then no doubt anyway.

    Then we have Microsoft's recent loud noises about a new audio standard "a bit like MP3" (Windows Media 4.0) that includes some kind of protection for artists and publishers. Go to the MS web site and click on the Public Enemy link and try to play it. I have the latest version of WinAmp and it loads but gives an error - the protocol is sufficiently different to not be MP3 compliant. With the MS stamp of corporate approval and their marketing, Windows Media format will sweep aside MP3 freeware encoders/players and become the defacto standard. It ships with IE5, Win98, Office2000,Win2000 - it will be on a *lot* of desks. I know that MP3 is wonderfull just the way it is, but MS don't see it that way as they don't control the standard.

    So, AOL see this burgeoning market in streaming audio and audio formats as being a big up and coming money maker and MS has a 3-6 month jump on them. They *know* they're going to be changing to Netscape browsers RSN and their users won't be able to access MS's new sound format files easily. What to do. Well when you're as big as AOL you buy the competition to MS and use it as a weapon. I think AOL are on the up and up and this will be an offensive war (ie AOL doesn't look to be sitting back and defending it's territory, they're moving forward, bless their little socks. Personally I hate 'em because the number of friends that got sucked into non standards compliant browsers, emails clients etc whom I have to tailor my email for).

    Oh, and don't AOL use Suns, SGI (mainly?) and BSD boxes? What does that tell you about their technical inclination towards what Microsoft would like the world's businesses to run on - NT??

    I think we're starting to see some major battle lines being drawn. It's not NT vs Unix. It Microsoft vs Other Companies. Keep a watch on AOL. Oh, and something is going to happen over at IBM, I'm sure of it. I bet you thought they've been kind of quiet lately. I think with the IBM witness at the DOJ case coming up the gloves will start coming off IBM. They're looking very strong financially.

    So this isn't NT vs Linux. That's kind of what seems to be the frontline for we Linuxites. But take a step back and see that the HP,DELL,SGI,IBM uptake of Linux is because Linux is a weapon against Microsoft. MS wields NT, Office, Win9x and some other "standards" that flow from that.

    Sure each nose-to-nose battle is NT/Linux, ASP/PHP, DCOM/CORBA etc etc, but that's short sighted. This is why I think ppl in the Linux community argue over suits, corporate types and where RedHat is going. This war needs to be fought on all levels. People in the kernel or drivers or wm battle front shouldn't belittle the necessity of the people fighting by corporate alliances, packaging distributions, binary only applications etc. We are all on the same side.

    A guess we have to consider why we are on this side and what the goal is. Is MS the enemy? I would tend to think that MS is the *current* enemy because it is the most obvious incarnation of what many people oppose: freedom to choose without bias in a competitive, non-prejudiced sales, marketing and technical "marketplace" (free sw/hw or otherwise).

    MS is a bump in the road to this goal. Some people wil see the bump, some will shout out "Lookout!", some will drive around, some will go so far around they'll go off the road into a ditch, some will end up going cross country, some will ride straight over the top. However it happens, the bump will eventually be behind us and won't look so bad in the rear-vision mirror. There will always be more bumps and maybe the wreckage of some crashed cars :-) but remember, that we will never, ever, ever stop. We will always go forwards.

    My 2.5c worth.

    Michael Snoswell
  • You know, the more I think about it, the less I think of this as a neccessarily bad thing... I mean, OK, so AOL, the closest thing to an internet monopoly has bought a yet another program... But in this case, unlike with Netscape or ICQ, there is little leverage to be gained by doing so.
    The MP3 standard isn't likely to change because of the aquisition, and the company hardly has the power to erase all of those free copies of Winamp already spread on everyone's computers. If you don't like AOL (As I do), just don't get the next version... In my case, I stopped getting new versions of winamp as soon as they added that mini browser for
    I'm just glad that the guys at Nullsoft finally got paid for their efforts. I mean face it, how many of you registered winamp after 14 days? This way, AOL picks up the tab.
    So what if they buy up Winzip too? Is the zip file format likely to change? I doubt it, and as long as it doesn't, nobody's forcing you to upgrade to the AOL branded version of the program. If they do decide to change the format, who's going to support it with so much of the software compatible with the old standard?
    Therefore, I think that the only way for AOL to make money on items such as Winamp or WinZip is to somehow sell ads to go right into the program, something that Nullsoft has already done by including the mini-browser...
  • See my posting. But the short of it is this: AOL is a slow, clunky, behemoth. Even after all of these years, my mother still needs a separate ISP to get reliable service on AOL because it kicks her off all of the time.

    But, beyond that, AOL is becoming HUGE, as you noted. Too huge. It's time that we nipped these companies in the bud before we let them grow too large (MSFT) and become unmanageable (MSFT).


  • Nevermind. I stand spanked. AOL does in fact own Mirabilis, Inc.
  • Tik is a very good open-source project run by AOL that essentially makes it the be-all and end-all of instant messenger clients. You can add all sorts of things to it, including Slashdot stories. It's definitely Done Right with respect to the online community. I suspect the new media acquisitions today will also be Done Right, as have Netscape, ICQ, and CompuServe.


    Kriston J. Rehberg []

  • I think AOL has the upper hand in any competition with Microsoft. First of all, AOL is trouncing MSN in terms of user base. Secondly, if Microsoft sufficiently angers AOL, AOL can just threaten to replace the default MSIE that comes with the AOL software with Netscape.
  • A monopoly isn't only tight control over an industry, or even loose control over an industry. That's only one type of monopoly - a horizontal monopoly. The other kind of monopoly, vertical, is where you control everything required to make a product or products - from essential minerals (or just basic components) all the way through to the finished product which allows you to far undercut the prices of other vendors who have to buy their supplies regularly. For example, a corporation that owns oil rigs, oil boats, refineries, gas stations, tanker-truck outfits, and an advertising company can be said to have a vertical monopoly even if they don't own ALL of a certain kind of business.

    So, how is AOL a monopoly? It doesn't own the majority of IP's, nor does it own a vertical monopoly as far as I can tell. Perhaps if they made their own modems and computers, or if AOL was used for nearly ninety percent of all internet data transfers (averaged by number of files, not bytes transferred).

    As it stands, AOL is merely a company with it's fingers in a whole bunch of pies. Adobe, Corel, and Macromedia can all claim the same.

    Of course, Microsoft is a different issue, because they control the OS, the hardware, and most of the major software packages - AND they don't play fair. As far as I have heard, nothing AOL has done truly deserves the stigma of "Monopoly". Yet. It is a disturbing trend here, but I'm waiting for the AOL-only games and AOL-Office suite of applications.
  • you could check out Sonique... never used it, but i've heard it's good... that's [].
  • More than likely, Frankel, et al. are named as defendants in this case. Thus, they had to get lawyers. Probably what will happen is that Frankel&Co. will motion for removal of defense and replace his current lawyer(s) with AOL certified lawyers with AOL paying the bottom line. Then, it will be up to the old US system to figure out the verdict.

    If it's against Nullsoft, more than likely they'll only pay pennies in comparison to AOL's worth, because it's arguable that this acquisition won't affect the ruling (shouldn't in a perfect world, but it does cause the eyes to go green). But, then again if it's in favor of Nullsoft, the costs for defense are covered by AOL.

    One last thing worth mentioning. No one even knows if that above scenario was part of the acquisition. Might be that Frankel&Co. have to handle that themselves without the big boys involved.
  • by Lx ( 12170 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @10:32AM (#1871831)
    What makes other players better is, of course, relative to your point of view and needs.

    K-Jofol - Supposedly the fastest mp3 player for windows. Great skins, great looking, lots of options. Free.

    Sonique - Also great looking, with fun analyzers, and very well visually designed, as well as having pitch control and such things.

    SoundPlay(for BeOS) - Aint the prettiest thing around, but it uses WinAmp skins, and has the best pitch control of any player - it can play anywhere from 400% to -400%. With the CDDA FS add-on, you can directly alter the pitch of music from a CD. Has options for crossfading. Comes with effects processors. New beta even features the beginning of a vocal removal option. Costs 12 bucks, but very much worth it for me.

    CL-AMP(for BeOS) - Almost a winamp clone, but with crossfading and pitch control (but won't play backwards :) Easy interface. Your basic well-done mp3 player for BeOS.

    Sound quality isn't that much of an issue, and reliability only varies slightly, but performance can be a little more important.

    It's not that WinAmp was bad, but we have to switch now, and there are more feature-packed players out there.

  • by adimarco ( 30853 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:43AM (#1871832) Homepage
    This is very interesting.

    In my mind, this calls into question some rather large industry alliances. Where does AOL officially stand with regard to Micros~1? Possibly more important, where does AOL stand with relation to the RIAA? Anyone have semi-detailed information on either of these?

    To my knowledge, Micros~1 is signed on with the SDMI, which would put them on the side of the RIAA.


    With the impending release of Micros~1's new mp3-capable Media Player, AOL now owns (at least) two large (in terms of users) pieces of software that directly compete with Micro$oft. I'm curious to see what Microsoft's reaction to this will be, and even more curious about their current relations with AOL.

    Despite my personal distaste (slight understatement) for AOL, unless they're up to something really senaky, I can see some very good things coming from their ownership of the most popular mp3 player in the world. At a bare minimum, this should result in more people using the mp3 format, which will hopefully bury the SDMI before they can even release it.

    Does AOL really have this much balls? Do they dare stand opposed to both Micros~1 and the RIAA?

    I can't wait to see how this one plays out :)
  • by Outland Traveller ( 12138 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:43AM (#1871834)
    Well, I think some people are bashing AOL in a knee-jerk type fashion. It seems we're calling a different company "The Next Microsoft" every day.

    On the other hand, I don't exactly have the warm fuzzies. AOL's been picking up high profile netgadgets lately (Netscape, Instant Messenger {was this ICQ?}, now Shoutcast and WinAMP). I would guess that they are trying to corner the market on hip cybertools, so as too attract even more users to their network service.

    There's nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to be popular, but AOL's current software practices leave a lot to be desired in the area of privacy, and forced advertising. These new aquisitions might turn out to be harmless party favours promoting the AOL name, or they might turn into trogan-horse like demographic harvesters. It'll probably be a little of both. I personally hate adware (even though it allows "free" services, I know) and hope that people develop marketing-free alternatives. Maybe I'll even be able to help :)

    I don't know how serious they are about promoting open software either. They do seem to have left a good part of netscape/mozilla intact, but I'm still not convinced they really want to give anything back to the net without strings attached.
  • 1. Monopolies must own a huge majority of the markets they control in order to truly be monopolies. As far as the Internet goes, I doubt very much that this is the case: while AOL may be one of the largest online services around, the sheer number of people on the internet, whether through large ISP's like GTE or BellSouth, or through local ISP's, keeps AOL from the Lion's share of marketshare. Also, since ISP's don't need to own most of the market to stay in business, I see little danger (at this point) of ISP's going belly up en masse and leaving us with only AOL and a few others.

    I am not an MBA, but I know that there are two types of monopolies - vertical and horizontal.

    Horizontal monopolies own all of one market (pre-breakup AT&T is a good example). Vertical monopolies own shares in many related markets, allowing them to be one stop shopping locations (IBM has at times been an example).

    Each type type of monopoly has it own perils. AOL seems to be moving towards being a vertical monopoly, and that is something to worry about. Vertical monopolies can do nasty things to markets.

  • If you won't use Winamp because it's owned by AOL, I certainly hope you aren't using Netscape. We wouldn't want to be hypocritical now would we?
  • Well this is pretty shocking news. I guess when someone waves big money in front of your nose it's pretty hard to concentrate on the ideals of OSS. Mind you I don't know if one can realistically blame anyone...they created the software, and they can do with it as they see fit. It's just sad mostly. I hope shoutcast/winamp remain free for at least personal use.

  • If you are on /. and are the salve of one particular brand name, you are doomed to [lose]. If you are so weak as to let other people force you to use softs and apps not of your liking, and let yourself be trapped in a closed system hell, then you are doomed to [lose].

    How does that affect this issue? I mean, if you're a big "Winamp fan", then perhaps you're happy about this latest development, cause now Nullsoft will have expanded funding, maybe hire more people, and improve the program beyond what it is.

    Sure, I use Winamp, and for the same reason I use Netscape 3. I find both programs superior to what I've been able to find in terms of viable competitors.

    But how does one's dislike of a small "independent" startup going AOLwards on you have anything to do with this mythical church of the "pseudo-geek", of having to own all the kewl 0DAY 4PPZ?

    When winamp came up it was heralded as the great saviour of the music distro sceen, and it was. It had its glory and is now moving to another phase.

    That's right... had. But which happened first -- the end of the glory, or the beginning of the acquisition?

    The Nullsofties and folks like them deserve to take their creations and do what they want with them.

    Sure thing. (And whenever someone points that out, the inference is " don't complain." Why not?)

    If you want me to believe that Nullsoft's only viable option at this point, and I'm not just talking about the company, but the four people who operate it, was to be bought by AOL, I simply won't believe it.

    Perhaps they feel they "owe" it to their users to keep the project alive. Perhaps they feel that they's put too much effort into it and they don't feel they've gotten the full ride for their quarter. I don't know, but I don't think this was a do-or-die situation. And I don't know why we're not entitled to criticise them for it.

    I don't agree with the "boycott winamp" cry, but I should be able to work my way toward encouraging companies to release products and take opportunities that meet my own values. Not everyone tries to make their money by prettying themselves to look good for AOL, and those people get more of my respect than those that don't.


  • Damn. The one thing (besides the software) that I really liked about WinAMP was the one-time registration. I hate paying for bug fixes every year from Micro$oft. Oh Well. I guess I'll just have to live with version 2.22 until something better comes along.

    My guess as to the 'why' of the whole thing is that they wanted ShoutCast, which is inherently cool. Maybe there's a place in the universe for an integrated IM/WinAMP/ShoutCast applet.
  • Let's take a slightly calmer look at things

    what happened?...they aquired Nullsoft...

    while that may justifably make a few people nervous, it in itself is not a reason to hate AOL

    it's what they may or may not do with it now that they have it

    dont hate for hatred's sake
  • Mozilla isn't the only AOL Free Software. The Linux version of the AOL IM client, written in tcl/tk, is a Free Software project actually initiated by AOL (not purchased, as Mozilla was).
  • by j ( 2547 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:15AM (#1871854) Homepage
    Now's a good time to check out the alternatives, namely Icecast [], a free project under very active development which provides a Shoutcast-compatible streaming MP3 server, encoding client, directory server, live interaction tools, and more. My experiences with Icecast have been very productive -- IMO, it provides a much greater level of flexibility than the proprietary flavors (surprise, surprise)

    Now if someone would just roll out a decent MP3 streaming client for Mac so I can ditch all these Real servers...

  • Yeah, right on. The world also doesn't need any more word processors either. Word and Word Perfect are enough! And what's with all these different email clients? Everyone should just be content to just use Netscape Mail or Outlook! And we sure as hell don't need any more operating systems. Windows 95 and Windows NT. If you want games, go with 95, for serious work NT! Who needs more choice than that??

    In case it isn't obvious, the above is sarcasm. I for one think a variety of different programs that do a similar function is a good thing. So what if there are 15 different IRC clients? I think that's a great thing. Find one that matches the features you want or need and use it!

    The problem is when huge commercial powers own the two dominant products. Netscape used to be a fast, lean, fairly standards-compliant browser. Now it's a hog. Sure it does more, but much of the extra bloat is annoying eye-candy.

    The big problem when two huge companies compete on a certain type of product is that it seems to always lead to featuritis, bloat, and products aimed at "joe average" who almost never wants what I want. I want a lot of choices in MP3 players, IRC clients, web browsers, instant messengers... I don't want to be forced to choose between a $40 AOL Instant Messenger Delucks and a $39 Microsoft MyMessenger Extra.

  • Ah, therein lies the rub. My own intuition says that AOL just wants to establish a beach head on everyone's computer, if they can, as a way of opening a gateway to a wider audience (i.e. captive market). Maybe they won't do anything manipulative or insidious with the product, or maybe they will, it's tough to say. A good example would be to chart the progress of ICQ since it was purchased by AOL (last year?)... They haven't started charging for it yet, but they have made some rumblings to that effect.

    I really don't see how much damage they can do with WinAmp though. Sure, it's the best player around, but there are a ton of other programs only a step behind it, with all of the same functionality built in, so it'll be difficult to create a monopoly. I don't know much about the rest, but I imagine the situation is probably much the same...

  • Let's be perfectly clear here. WinAmp is (was?) not OSS, free software, GNU, or anything else. It is shareware. You have to pay to use it legally. No source is available. I suspect AOL will make it free. They do not charge for other software - they charge for service.

    Jason Dufair
    "Those who know don't have the words to tell
  • It's not that WinAmp was bad, but we have to switch now, and there are more feature-packed players out there.

    You have to switch, or are considering switching? I'm still using Netscape, and AOL bought them out as well, I see no *need*, just the consideration if, for example, they start embedding add spaces into the winamp window or stream adds through shoutcast at random times or something.

  • by muadib ( 21557 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:25AM (#1871870) Homepage
    Having a huge force like AOL behind an MP3 company could actually be a good thing as it throws major big bucks MP3. I would love to see RIAA and AOL battle it out.
    Deepak Saxena
    1999 - Year of the Penguin
  • Remember guys, this was all're dealing with companies that sell software. Money is their first priority. Sell-outs like this are to be expected.

    Truly open-source software apps (XAmp, FreeAmp, etc) will begin to prevail (as they should!). Also, Sonique, Kjofol, and others that come from the hacker community will still be around.

    It only remains to be seen how AOL will poison this as they poisoned ICQ.
  • by quux26 ( 27287 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:20AM (#1871896) Homepage
    The community can kill two birds with one stone. Just find yourself a new MP3 player.

    1) This will make small companies think twice about selling to a mindless corporation and,
    2) This will make mindless corporations think twice about purchasing such a company if they think everyone will walk.

    This is our revolution and it's not for sale.

  • by Lx ( 12170 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:14AM (#1871899)
    Well, looks like I'll be booting back into windows to take the bitch out. There are, btw, far better Mp3 players for windows - K-Jofol and Sonique come to mind. You can find links and resources on them at Skinz []. Most of my Mp3s I play in BeOS, though, because of the added filesystem attributes for Mp3, and Soundplay, the greatest mp3 player ever.

    So long, Winamp, and thanks for all the skins...

  • If you are an idiot and the internet means Netcape and ICQ (which means the internet began in the mid 90s) then maybe you have a point. What the hell does the internet have to do with Winamp?
  • by Nichen ( 34123 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:54AM (#1871908) Homepage

    AOL certainly has been making big strides in acquiring the leading competitors in different areas of computing: Netscape, ICQ, Winamp, etc. To me, this is definitely AOL becoming another internet/media giant (Microsoft comes to mind quickly as an example). I don't really trust either company, or companies similar to them, and frankly, this scares the Windows-using part of me; the Linux part of me just laughs nervously over these acquisitions.

    However, I see a large difference in how AOL and Microsoft are becoming giants. Microsoft just drives different companines out of business, providing only their crappy programs as alternatives. AOL, on the other hand, just buys out the companies and (hopefully) allows them run themselves without any AOL intervention in the coding process. That software remains out there, perhaps even promoted by AOL, and it remains a viable competitor to the crap Microsoft and other similar monopolies throw out at us.

    I'm not saying AOL is a good guy for buying out these companies; these buyouts are in the interest of AOL, not the companies. I personally hate AOL's services. But at least AOL doesn't crush them out of existence. The great software is still there, it's just AOL owns it.

    I'm probably wrong on some points, this is just how I see from my user-end vantage. Right now I have Netscape and ICQ open, and I'm having absolutely no problems with them (even the fact that AOL owns them). As long as the software AOL buys out remains the same, in the short-run I have no problem with them buying companies out. The long-run impact is something I'm still thinking about, and I see both good and bad in it. It all depends on how ethical AOL will be (yeah right).

    *Raising shields for return fire* =) If you're going to flame, make it a respectable argument, please.


  • by Splatta ( 7993 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:26AM (#1871913) Journal
    This is not necesarily a bad thing...

    Yes, AOL is a HUGE conglomerate, and it seems that they are only doing this because mp3s are so big lately, but.. (you know there had to be one) they also have alot of money, and sway in the internet world. This could be a good thing. More money, better development, and if AOL starts advertising this could mean that many many more people would potentialy be exposed to mp3s, and give it the boost it needs.

    think about it.
  • The question is what is AOL going to do with them. Does anyone know about AOL and RIAA relations? AOL vs. Real Networks (for streaming audio) could be fun.
  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @11:03AM (#1871920) Homepage
    Its good in someways because the music companies are less likely to sue AOL who has bucks to defend MP3. Little indies don't have these resources and get bullied (look at the emulation makers..). MP3 has a strong corporate voice that can defend MP3 (and will after 400 million.)

    AOL seems to be in a bit a strange position in terms of "Broadband"..

    Cable modem users use cable ISPs (I doin't think they have choice")

    DSL is just starting to become available, I don't know if you have ISP choice there. I know its connection less (ie you can't get a DSL connection dialled into anywhere, the line gets dropped at the phone company.)

    I think the government is looking into equal access bills for ISPS, but thats another story.

    If people want high speed access they may have to ditch AOL, so I think AOL is diversifying. They have the site which is similar to Altavista/Yahoo/Netcenter. They also seem to paying big bucks for "Free or shareware" software to make sure they have a net precence.

  • by warmi ( 13527 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @10:10AM (#1871929) Homepage

    I don't understand this "Ohs", jaws on the floor etc ... I mean what's the big deal. AOL bought not WinAmp per se but its user base !!! It was the same with ICQ. I mean, come on , it would not be that hard for AOL to write their own MP3 player. It is users who are familiar with the product that count. And that's fine with me. WinAMP authors made lot of money - they deserved that.
    Everything works ok.
  • I'm curious what makes a better Mp3 player?

    I've used winamp and have been satisfied with it, so there was never a reason to change...

    Depending on what AOL has in store for winamp, I may have to. =(

    Sound quality?

    Winamp sounds fine, I don't know what 'better' is supposed to sound like. It doesn't crash, it doesn't hose my system, it doesn't mess up the songs. And on average it takes like 8% of my CPU cycles, which is fine by me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    An AOL spokesman, today:

    "AOL would like it known that we are now officially mocking the world at large. Especially all you Winamp and Shoutcast users. Hah, we told you we'd get you someho- er, I mean, no comment."
  • I feel like I was literally taken from behind. I never saw this one coming.

    Scenario #1: RIAA's lawyers will back off. They took on Nullsoft and because RIAA knew they couldn't afford to be tied up in litigation costs. AOL is another matter (You wanna mess with me?)

    Scenario #2: RIAA's lawyers will give it a shot. Surely AOL has spare change somewhere to cover the legal expenses, reach settlement, etc.

    Scenario #3: RIAA will cut a deal with AOL. This is probably the end of cheap music distribution as we know it.

    This better be a joke. What were these two monkeys thinking for signing up with AOL? Lesser of two evils?

    Rod Z
  • For months and months (at least back when I used Windows on a regular basis) I told people: "You should really register Winamp, you know." And they laughed. I told them: "It's really hard to come across non-crippled, honest-to-god shareware (keep in mind: windows) any more. You should support it." And they laughed. And I told them: "It's really true---if people don't support quality shareware, then it will cease to exist." And they laughed.

    Who's laughing now? If all 5 million (according to Yahoo) Winamp users had done what Nullsoft asked and paid them the paltry $10 for the hours and hours that most of then surely have used Winamp.. well, let's just say Nullsoft would certainly have been a lot less anxious to hop on the AOL train. But no, it's been proven: we live in a society where people refuse to accept their capitalistic responsibilities and then refuse to accept the consequences. Every one of you out there who used Winamp for more than 30 days without paying for it---this is YOUR FAULT. The blame rests squarely on your cheap-ass shoulders.

    (Of course, this is why we love REAL free software so much 'round these parts.. the linux kernel is not for sale at any price. right?)


  • i mean, i don't really see why this is a problem. It isn't particularly surprising for AOL to want to own some mp3 code, or for that matter to own some mp3.

    so AOL wants to run some mp3 distribution channels. so? keep in mind that AOL is, and has always been, more of a content provider than a software provider. this is a natural step.

    now, when they bought netscape, that was something to be scared of. After all, with Winamp, or i guess with Spinner, you have a multitude of alternatives. With netscape you have very little alternatives. Also, if aol owns winamp, that doesn't change mp3 at large. mp3 is still the same. but Netscape has great political power, and what the support can make or break a file format. Owning netscape means AOL now has close to direct control (shared with MS, anyway) over the HTML file format..

    so the fact that AOL has crashed the mp3 party means little to the rest of the party. never mind that AOL is fairly evil, and that they might try to do evil things to the rest of the mp3 market. they can't cause much hurt.

    of course, since i've never been to, and since i already use a free (mac-only) mp3 player called SoundApp, it doesn't really affect me directly. if i'd paid ten bucks to own winamp it would alarm me that AOL had control of the code now. :P

    what would be interesting is if they integrate winamp into AOL, and people immediately start trading pirated mp3 over AOL like crazy. Since they're using AOL's system to transmit and store the illegal mp3s, could AOL be sued? i dunno if AOL knows what it's getting into here.
  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @10:15AM (#1871954) Homepage Journal
    A lot of the messages responding to this (very strange) turn of events are basically saying "Oh, no, AOL is another monopoly." This, quite frankly, is NOT true. There are many, many things I dislike about AOL, and they are a very large company, but they are not a Monopoly, and while this turn of events is shocking, I don't consider it terribly dangerous. Here's why:

    1. Monopolies must own a huge majority of the markets they control in order to truly be monopolies. As far as the Internet goes, I doubt very much that this is the case: while AOL may be one of the largest online services around, the sheer number of people on the internet, whether through large ISP's like GTE or BellSouth, or through local ISP's, keeps AOL from the Lion's share of marketshare. Also, since ISP's don't need to own most of the market to stay in business, I see little danger (at this point) of ISP's going belly up en masse and leaving us with only AOL and a few others.

    2. WinAmp is a very popular MP3 player, but it's not the only one out there -- and if I recall correctly, it's currently being sued for illegally using a proprietary MP3 codec. There are plenty of MP3 players out there -- some freely available -- for people to use if AOL decides to hike up the price significantly.

    3. IceCast is a free software implementation of AOL's purchase, so there seems little danger of that capability being denied from the world at large.

    Because of those three points, it seems unlikely AOL's purchases will be any significant threat to their respective markets, so long as everyone is wary and keeps a close eye on AOL's future actions.

    Besides that, they continued to support Mozilla after they bought Netscape, didn't they? That should be some encouragement...
  • Looks to me like AOL wants to bore their way even deeper into people's homes. In the short term they'll give their customers all sorts of propriatary streaming content (probably a bunch of crap, but that's what all their content is), then later on try to push their way into the software side of handheld computers & home networks.

    It's interesting to think back just a few years ago. One of AOL's new features was an Internet Mail gateway, so you could send & receive mail with non-AOL members. I pretty much thought they'd fade into the background when the WWW took off, and now look at them -- they're riding the wave better than M$ is.

    Not that I'd ever use their service, but they've got their business plan churning.

  • The entire concept of AOL owning everything on the Windows desktop (What do they need now, Winzip and GameSpy?) really creeps me out, especially after the keynote the AOL employee gave at the Linux Expo. It sounded like a stock investor speech with "Oh yeah, Linux is good too! Embedded systems!" tacked on. He went over all the brands AOL owns and said, essentially, why AOL would be making money off of everything you do on the Net, and why you should like that. "AOL Anywhere" as opposed to "Microsoft Everywhere."
    On the other hand, they haven't done anything too terribly brutal to the companies they've acquired just yet. ICQ, as far as I know, has gone virtually unchanged, and so has Netscape, but I don't want to fire up WinAmp (I do have to use Windows from time to time -- gah) and see an ad for in the browser window, and something tells me they wouldn't have a problem with selling companies an audience this way.
    In the short term, I think this will probably be good for MP3s in general -- AOL's a pretty wealthy company, the RIAA might just back off. But I'm not sure we're not gearing up for another massive corporation controlling all we see and do -- especially after that keynote, which had more to do with total domination than Linux.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @10:13AM (#1871974)
    Anyone notice this little blurb on the Yahoo report?

    "Nullsoft is the developer of Winamp, the leading branded MP3 player for Windows, and SHOUTcast, an MP3 streaming audio system. With 15 million total downloads, Winamp has an installed base of 5 million users and is the No. 2 most popular application on after ICQ, averaging more than 43,000 downloads daily."

    From the desk of an AOL executive...
    Number 1: ICQ (acquired)
    Number 2: WinAmp (acquired)
    Number 3: WinZip
    Number 4: Netscape (acquired)

    The results of last weeks top downloads at are listed above, in that order.
    Scary that AOL owns three of four, eh? I think so....
    -"AOHell. The good old days"
  • Old Commercial Software Paradigm:

    Implement an innovative idea. Become wildly successful. Get bought out by Microsoft and retire at age 35.


    New Commercial Software Paradigm:

    Implement an innovative idea. Become wildly successful. Get bought out by AOL and retire at age 35.
  • only if you want to make money though. Before you flame, try to grow up a bit. They obviously have people out there looking for new good technology, ICQ anyone? They have tons of cash, thanks to the herds of AOLer's, and it looks like the savvy to pull it off. On a good note they haven't f**ked with ICQ yet, so maybe they know when to keep hands off. Of course, they are here to make money (see subject line) so don't be surprised when they adopt a yearly subscription fee for all AOL(tm) software. Of course all that would do is make more people look for free stuff, so JUST KEEP CODING.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:09AM (#1871983)
    ...that AOL is not only trying to make everyone believe that it is the internet, but with acquisitions of buzz-technology, it certainly is moving forward to own important parts of it.

    I wonder how long until they are called a monopoly, albeit it's not much of a danger until they buy, let's say,

  • When you say that people can keep using the older versions of software that has gotten worse as a result of its aquisition by a large blood sucking corporation, you are forgetting that the copies eventually dfisappear. I don't think many people keep the archive wwith the installer files after they are done installing software.

    After my old drive failed, i had to install all my old software all over again, which meant downloading all the installers again.

    I could not find a single public site that had Icq98 on it. I hated the bloated Icq99 client and spent a lot of time in a futile attempt to locate the software. Luckily a friend had the file...

    The point in all of this is that eventually we will lose the older, better softweare. Nothing lasts forever.

  • by mastagee ( 26015 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @10:23AM (#1872004)

    well i think we all know why.

    nullsoft was desperate for money due to the suit filed by Playmedia. When AOL offered to buy nullsoft the small company, they must have seen this as an opportunity to prevent losing this case (even though playmedia had virtually no case against them).

    Nullsoft Founder and President Justin Frankel said: ``Working with America Online will let us globally extend the use of our technologies through its Internet brands. In addition, having access to America Online's
    tremendous resources and infrastructure will let focus our efforts on what's really important: Making cool software.''

    tremendous resources to pay lawyers to get playmedia off our backs . . .

    maybe i'm reading between the lines, but it does make sense.

    why would they get rid of Nitrane to replace it with that crappy decoder they use now unless they were scared?

  • Accually Microsoft and AOL are more ex friends. AOL is now testifying against Microsoft, and having the Netscape employees they bought redesign AOL under the Netscape browser. Rumor abound that soons AOL will stop using its propritary network protocol and use good ol TCP/IP via PPP. Talk about html/javaising thier interface and such. While I don't like AOL and never plan on using them, they are nolonger bedfellows with Microsoft, and quite possibly could help destroy them. By the way while Microsoft likes to talk about owning the internet they seem to be more interesting in owning your desktop. But AOL definatly seems to be interesting in owning the internet, and that scared me.. Not that I'm worried, the free/open source software revolution is taking off right in time.
  • by dew ( 3680 ) <.david. .at.> on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @09:43AM (#1872030) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I happen to know a number of people in the digital audio space, but this was not expected. I can tell you guys that there will be another absolutely jaw-dropping announcement in under a month, so brace yourself, because the industry is in for a ride.

    The $400M seemed to be for both companies, no? I'm guessing that the vast majority of that went to, seeing as that A) Spinner was already traded and is a pretty considerably sized company and B) notice how Nullsoft is moving but nobody else is?

    It's important to realize here that this does not mean that MP3s are going to become open. Everybody already knows about Icecast [] and FreeAmp [], and AOL acquiring Nullsoft has (duh) nothing to do with the MP3 format as a whole. This is not about formats, it's about AOL acquiring media properties to be able to best serve its customers with a really neat, compelling multimedia experience. Go look at Wired Planet [] -- this is what I see AOL pulling off, but with a huge amount of music content.

    I understand the anti-AOL sentiment. I, too, was there in the first part of this decade and felt the Internet shift when morons from Joe4422@AOL.COM started posting to sci.physics. But this may be part of an image shift, too. AOL isn't just a crappy service provider any more. They own a very hefty chunk of the world's software Intellectual Property now, including some very neat companies they picked up with their acquisition of Netscape. Give them some credit. They're a different company now, or are at least trying to be. And hey, I'd sure like to get bought out for a few million, vest, and then leave -- wouldn't you?
    David E. Weekly (dew, Think)

  • Well, at least the WinAMP thing could be good. With somebody as big as AOL backing it, we might see MP3 become the de facto audio streaming standard. Of course, I'm pretty sure they'll want you to use "AOL WinAMP" (*shudder*), and they might put a few proprietary things in there. But consider tik... at least with that project, they were nice and friendly about keeping everything open, and making sure their service runs on just about every platform out there (instead of not acknowledging the clones out there, like ICQ did, which, among a few other reasons, is why basically everybody I know decided to move from ICQ to AIM). What they'll do with Spinner and ShoutCAST, I have no clue. I'm hoping they'll play nice and make them nice and open. But after all, this *is* AOL we're talking about, and there *is* a reason I left them so long ago, ditto for why I microwave all the CDs they send me (advice: NEVER try it for more than 3 seconds... especially if you live in a dorm or an appartment).
  • the correct age is now 25 ;)
  • ...because I have a sinking feeling that AOL is going to monkey with it privacy-wise. I just don't like AOL, and I don't trust them. The last thing they think about is the user. Which is why you'll probably start seeing ads in WinAmp, profiles of the user and use stored, etc.

    But I could be wrong. They may just leave Justin and Co. alone to do what they do best. But somehow I don't think they will. I feel very sad.

    BTW, did they get MacAmp as well?

  • If you ran a small business struggling to be profitable and were approached by a huge corporation willing to put millions in your pockets in exchange for ownership of the business, would you really care who the buyer is?

    IMHO Nullsoft successfully made themselves very juicy corporate buy-out bait by being a leader in the rapidly-expanding MP3 industry. If AOL hadn't picked them up, MS eventually would have anyway.

    It will be very interesting to see what AOL does with Nullsoft. Unless they decide to phase out the Nullsoft programmers and leave Winamp development to their in-house programming staff, nothing too bad should happen.

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H.L. Mencken