AOL Challenges iPhone With Mobile Winamp

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AOL is set to launch a new mobile product next week that will allow users to connect to their PC-based music collections from their mobile phones. An extension of the hardly noticed Winamp Remote PC-to-PC media streaming service that launched earlier, the PC-to-mobile service, in effect, turns a mobile phone into a MP3 player.

If you wondering about speed, AOL says the new mobile service will stream at the "appropriate" bitrate for the data connection and format for streaming players. Current users can download the extension and start streaming, while new users will have to first download the Winamp Remote client onto their home PC.

Beta testing will, no doubt, expose how well the application performs. 

The Winamp Remote works on handsets with a data plan, Web browser and any kind of streaming media player: 3gp, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or Flash. There is a catch, though. It does not support DRM-protected files.

"The move into the mobile marketplace underscores our primary objective of providing consumers with the definitive media playback and discovery experience, across multiple platforms," said Matthew Callaway, Product Director for Winamp and SHOUTcast. "Winamp Remote on mobile brings an added level of freedom to our users."

The extension is powered by Orb Networks, which connects the handsets to Internet-connected computers, and allows users to share playlists with friends.

The product is a direct challenge in advance of Apple’s iPhone, which, for around $600, acts as an iPod as well. The Winamp Remote acts, then, as a way of avoiding having to buy new technology to transfer music to the handset.

With AOL’s in-roads to online video recently, the new product is another aggressive move into mobile and file-sharing. The two of them together may be AOL’s answer to a flagging brand, which had no shortage of trouble last year.

AOL Challenges iPhone With Mobile Winamp
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  • Jim S.

    I can not see how this is much of a challenge to the iPhone. Sure it plays music like the iPhone but that is not what people are going to buy an iPhone for. They are going to buy it for easy of use and the interconnectivity of the various functions of the phone. Until competitors understand that people want easy to use consumer goods they will not catch the iPhone. One case in point: my Motorola Razr requires me to press the keys 18 times to start a text message. I could pare that down to about 13 if I rearrange my contacts, etc. but that means I would have to spend some time setting it up. The iPhone will take about 2 to 4 touches of the screen to set up an text message. Add in the ability to use wi-fi to browse the web and use google maps and you have a set of feature that will attract a lot of users.

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