Winamp 2019: a triumphant return and vague prospects

    So, Winamp returns in 2019, articles with this title appeared a few days ago in major world publications such as Forbes,, Digitaltrends, and others. The player, once already conquered the planet, is going to be revived by the Radionomy Group Representatives said on October 15th. In this article, I will look at the history of the legendary product, speculate about what the developers promise in the new Winamp and try to understand if this reincarnation has any chances.

    A bit of history

    Many people tend to view the history of Winamp as a story of chance success, when the value of a product allowed it to level out any mistakes the company made to promote the product. I also hold this opinion, but with a reservation - this player was one of the most advanced for its time.

    So, Winamp has been developed since 1997, the first working version of WinAMP 0.20a appeared on April 21, 1997. It was designed by Justin Frenkel and Dmitry Boldyrev. The program was distributed free of charge. The user interface was a regular menu bar, with the ability to drag and drop a file to play. The first Winamp used the MP3 decoder - AMP, created by Tomislav Uzilak. The abbreviation AMP stands for Advanced Multimedia Products, advanced multimedia products.

    As early as May 1997, starting with WinAMP 0.92, the player interface (called Winamp Classic) vaguely resembles what will become a kind of reference for all applications of this type in the future. A month later, the player acquired the familiar name and appearance, Winamp 1 appeared, which only slightly changed with time (new buttons appeared with the extension of the functionality).

    Starting with Winamp 1, the program becomes paid, and Justin Fraenkel founds the company Nullsoft, Inc. for the development of this project. The cost of the application at the time of the start of sales is $ 10. From the outset, Nullsoft has problems with Tomislav Uzilak, the copyright holder and creator of the AMP 0.7 handler. 1. Frenkel develops his own, Nitrane, but the solution does not satisfy Uzilack's Play Media Systems company. Winamp begins to be sold actively, and PlayMedia Systems continues legal disputes with Frenkel.

    A year later, Winamp 2 comes out, with an improved equalizer and a number of other improvements. Then, in 2002, the unsuccessful WInamp 3 came out, and in 2005, the merits of the second and third versions were combined into Winamp 5.

    The next landmark event in the program’s history on December 30, 2010 was the appearance of the Winamp version for Android. The last version of the program before a multi-year break, called Winamp 5.666, appeared in 2013, after which work on the player stopped until this year. For starters, before the release of the next sixth version of the player, the company released an update after a five-year hiatus, which was named 5.8.

    Strategic mistakes

    In 1999, Nullsoft bought AOL. Despite the huge popularity of Winamp and its dynamic development, AOL regularly made terrible strategic mistakes. They simply did not have a development strategy for the music division, which buried the opportunity to turn into something like Spotify, although there were all the prerequisites for that.

    They chose not to notice the aggressive appearance of the iPod and the fact that it and other hardware players are eating up a portion of their user audience. As a result, all this against the background of minor miscalculations, such as a long absence of language support and jambs with the protection of rights, led to the non-viability of the product.


    In 2014, Radionomy Group from Belgium, which was engaged in Internet broadcasting, acquired Winamp. In October of this year, the company made a statement about the appearance of a new sixth version in 2019. Three days later another update was released. 5.8. This version is fully compatible with Windows 10, has support for Microsoft Audio, is free from all paid features that were introduced into the player earlier.

    According to the developers of the Radionomy Group, the new Winamp will be a utilitarian solution for listening to sound (streaming, podcasts, the user's own files, etc.). In an interview with TechCrunch, Radionomy Group head Alexander Sabundzhan said:

    “You can listen to MP3s that you have at home, but you can also use the cloud, podcasts, streaming radio and playlists.”

    From the interview it also became clear that the player will be cross-platform, as the developers hope that people will use Winamp 6 on all devices. Also, according to the CEO of Radionomy Group, Winamp has an impressive user community, about 100 million people, most of whom live outside the United States.

    New release plan to release for desktops and mobile OS. According to Sabundzhan, the new product will not only combine the majority of possible sources of audio content, but will also have improved search capabilities. At the moment there is no information about the integration of the new version with Apple Music, Spotify, Google Music and similar services. The head of the Radionomy Group subtly hints that negotiations are under way, but not ready to report on their results.

    Can this shoot?

    In my opinion, the new Winamp has every chance. In this case, a successful new product will be only if it becomes truly universal. Those. The success of Winamp 6 will depend directly on the effectiveness of negotiations with partners.
    If the Belgians persuade at least two of the big three, for example, Spotify and Google Music, they are almost guaranteed success. Ideally, they should create their own streaming service, as well as integrate features for playing music from social services and YouTube, which will also add significantly to their audience.

    The biggest issue that comes to my mind is monetization. Sabundzhan decided not to talk about what exactly he offers as a monetization product strategy, i.e. what the new Winamp will earn in the end. Given the history of this product, the biggest “but” seems to me exactly the business model. In this case, it is likely that the Belgians were able to assess the negative experience of their predecessors and would not step on the rake, which is encouraging.


    It is too early to talk clearly about the prospects of Winamp 6, but it is obvious that developers are striving to create something that the market needs. I personally have never been a big Winamp fan, although their visualizations cause a keen sense of nostalgia. Meanwhile, the idea of ​​combining “all in one”, voiced by developers, in my opinion, may well give the legend another chance for success. I would appreciate your opinion in the comments.

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