AOL Challenges iPhone With Mobile Winamp
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.