December 22, 2005 4:00 AM PST

A Firefox for music?

If digital-music veteran Rob Lord wanted to court controversy with his new open-source start-up, he probably couldn't have done much better than to compare Apple Computer's iTunes software to Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser.

Lord's new five-person company, the ambitiously named Pioneers of the Inevitable, is building a piece of digital-music software called "Songbird," based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser.

With their first technical preview expected early next year, the programmers want to create music-playing software that will work naturally with the growing number of music sites and services on the Web, instead of being focused on songs on a computer's hard drive. That's where iTunes, which plugs only into Apple's own music store, falls short, Lord argues.

Apple's iTunes is "like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com," Lord said. "We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience. But it's inevitable that the market architecture changes as it matures."

An Apple representative declined to comment.

It is undeniable that music software and services are moving increasingly off the hard drive and onto the Web. But if Songbird is to be the "Firefox of MP3" when it's done, it has a long way to go.

Indeed, analysts question whether a world awash in music-playing software from Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks, Yahoo, Sony and others really needs another digital jukebox.

Among those giants, Microsoft's Media Player accounts for 45 percent of all PC music playing, Apple's iTunes captures 17 percent, and the rest fall off sharply from there, according to U.S. statistics from the NPD Group.

But even with those odds, Lord has enough of a pedigree to make the industry stop and take notice. A co-founder of the Internet Underground Music Archive, an online music site predating the MP3 boom, as well as one of the first employees at Winamp creator Nullsoft, he was most recently a product manager for the launch of Yahoo's music software and subscription service, after his last start-up, Mediacode, was purchased by the portal.

Songbird could have a built-in audience of open-source fans to give it a good start. And don't forget, just a few years ago, who would have counted on the success of the Firefox browser? Since its first full-version release a year ago, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox has defied skeptics and managed to grab close to 8 percent or 9 percent of the browser market, although estimates vary.

And programmers working with the Mozilla Foundation say the Songbird project has their attention.

"We're excited to see an ecosystem of companies building technology around Mozilla," said Scott MacGregor, technical lead for the Thunderbird project, an open-source e-mail reader. "It's a healthy sign for Mozilla and open source in general."

Under the microscope
Even before the software has been released, Songbird has stirred up a hornet's nest of online critics and boosters on outside blogs and even on the company's own Web site.

Screenshots posted on the company's Web site show a software application clearly modeled closely after iTunes' browsing style. The parallels drew instant ridicule from Apple loyalists, who pointed out that Apple had in fact patented software with three "panes" for browsing through a media collection.

Until the software is released even in a preview stage, it's hard to tell whether that will indeed be a problem. But Lord says that's missing the point.

iTunes does have a good basic interface for browsing a music collection, but Songbird isn't tied to any one look, he said. It's built on technology that allows developers to change the look of the application with the same simple tools they use to write a Web page, and so will be extremely malleable.

That said, the five Pioneers of the Inevitable are a practical bunch, and will change their basic interface if it looks like there is any legal risk, he added.

Songbird's underlying programming technology is called XML User Interface Language, or XUL. Along with letting people create their own look for the software, this will allow music services or developers to write their own plug-ins, letting them add features or tap directly into their own digital-download stores.

That might mean that a listener could create a playlist that draws from his or her own hard drive, a Web-based subscription service like RealNetworks' Rhapsody, and an online music storage locker such as MP3Tunes, for example. The open-source foundation will let the software be easily ported to PC, Macintosh and Linux-based computers.

Lord cautioned that little of this has actually been built yet. The version that will be released early next year will largely be a demonstration of how a media player can be built on top of the Mozilla technology. Most of the advanced features people now expect from modern music software will be added over the course of further development, he said.

"What we've built is a user preview," Lord said. "This is meant to inspire and show the road map--and a glimpse of where we are on that road map."

How does this all make money? It's not yet clear. The company's business model is a work in progress too, Lord said.

One possibility is selling the technology to companies that want to create their own music store, but don't want to build their own software to do it. One analyst pointed to Procter & Gamble's recent release of a music service as an example.

"I can imagine Songbird as a Web interface for a brand like that," said GartnerG2 analyst Mike McGuire. "There would be interesting value there."

See more CNET content tagged:
open source, Apple Computer, Apple iTunes, digital music, Firefox

58 comments

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Hmmm...
I just go to Musicnow.com and 10 dollars a month for every song you can imagine. Firefox already has an open source music extension 'Foxytunes' where it plays it in the browser. Plus I can search on Google's music search which is really good as it lists pictures,videos, history, everything that's on the Net about the band and where to buy.

Also check out Amarok which is free/GNU for Linux and Window$.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://amarok.kde.org/index.php?full=1&#38;set_albumName=1-4-Series&#38;id=amaroksvn148mp&#38;option=com_gallery&#38;Itemid=60&#38;include=view_photo.php" target="_newWindow">http://amarok.kde.org/index.php?full=1&#38;set_albumName=1-4-Series&#38;id=amaroksvn148mp&#38;option=com_gallery&#38;Itemid=60&#38;include=view_photo.php</a>

Now Open Source/free music that would better.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i agree
agree about the music now thing.

they have most major labels and over 1.5 million songs. I even wrote a review about it on our music website....

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.xtrememusician.com/music_service_reviews/aol-musicnow.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.xtrememusician.com/music_service_reviews/aol-musicnow.html</a>


I'm a huge firefox fan, but being a musician i gotta say that i do understand copyright protections are necessary.
Posted by circuithead (1 comment )
Link Flag
A Firefox for music
Oh goodness, another article on software as a savior from Apple or
Microsoft, but isn't available.

Geeks love the premise (and articles), but the real world is using
existing, very well designed software that gets updated pretty
regularly. Well Apple does at least. And offers more content to
boot.

I predict this project goes nowhere.
Posted by mozart11 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree.
Yeah, this isn't about just providing a choice, this is about providing a compelling choice.

And in the world of music, a compelling choice is infinitely harder than just offering another web browser.

For this to be better, it will need to offer something that the others don't. Integration with MP3 players and/or iPod, a catalog of immense breadth and depth (which means lots and lots of licensing), podcasting.

Oh... and video now, too. And vidcasting.

iTunes is really slick. (That 17% number seems small to me, or the sample audience is a really generic set of criteria.)

I've never purchased anything with iTunes, but we publish our church's sermons in its podcast directory. I think if anything, Apple's catalog of offerings is so huge that it ends up making it hard to find anything, and its search engine is too limiting in how it lets you search.

But these are minor quibbles, growing pains that Apple will overcome. They'll be able to recommend stuff to you like Launchcast or Amazon, they'll build in more methods of search and I'm betting that it won't be too long before you'll be able to store your (purchased) music on their servers, accessible anywhere*. I also expect that they'll eventually offer streaming radio-type services like Launchcast.

* I'm expecting to eventually see wireless iPods that take advantage of these city-wide broadband initiatives.

It will be a long hard road to build something so new, so unique that you'll be able to successfully take on everyone else. Good luck with it, though.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
I'm not quite so sure,
The beauty of the iTMS is that its payload resides on OUR hard drives (granted you have to make your backups to really feel secure.)

Music search is great and I welcome another iTMS-like source for any kind of aud/vid content. May they find their place next to each other. May they also be able to interoperate.

I'm convinced that the broadcasting model is fundamentally going through all the lashing out and sueing their customers, accusing them of criminal behavior, trying to arrest them and bankrupt them and getting laws passed to protect their business model, because they are all dying a quick but painful death.

Podcasting and podcatching are the overwhelming winners of the digital age.

And that changes the fundamental economics from one of scarsety, the one where supply-siders make all the money, to one of plenty, the one where the demand-siders make enough money to make it worth staying in the game.

Taking the product out of the hands of the supply-side broadcasters and their hangers-on reveals a couple of things:
1) They're greedy.
2) They're bullies.

That's not to say that there aren't greedy bullies on the internet, however we can route our way around them.

Say goodbye to the media as we knew it and hello to the cacophony to come.
Posted by CharlesRovira (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Competition Is Good... I Guess.
First off, Lord has both good and bad points.

Bad point: iTunes is NOT like Internet Explorer. iTunes is good
software; IE is, well, not.

Good point: The digital jukebox industry needs to open up. A
user can only buy songs from one music store to play on the
company's proprietary jukebox (Rhapsody, iTunes, etc.). That's
clearly an example of companies trying to keep the business
under their controlling little finger. They seem to be afraid that if
they open up and give consumers options, then they'll lose
ground.

As a Mac user, it annoys me that I don't have many options other
than iTunes and iPod to buy and play music. And until a jukebox
(the obiviously iTunes-modeled Songbird or other) breaks away
from that mold and becomes successful, then big companies will
simply play by their own rules.

Not ot mention, I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to live under
a digital music monopoly - like the PC monopoly that Microsoft
held for so long. It's simply a bad idea!

In that way, competition is usually good.
Posted by toosday (343 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great
There is always room for more software in the world. That leaves it up to the masses to choose the best or at least the most favorite.

I, like others, don't really see this software being more than another music player unless they can find away to bring it all together in an organized and easy to use way.

I like iTunes myself. I like the idea of downloading and storing my music and if one day I decide to never buy another song, well I don't loose my collection. I also like the idea of having either no DRM or at least a uniform one that allows me to choose the software and media player I like, but be able to buy music from any online music retailer. I think it will be a long time before that happens.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They just don't get it
It's not just the software! It's the whole package, the whole
experience! The iPod hardware - iTunes software - iTunes
Music Store. All 3 parts make to work together seemlessly
and simply.
Posted by kirasaw (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But...
If I didn't have to buy an iPod I wouldn't.

I'll totally agree that iTunes is the best music jukebox and the best music buying experience. But the iPod isn't really all it's cracked up to be.

To me, if it wasn't for the software I wouldn't even bother with the hardware.
Posted by jakec (25 comments )
Link Flag
Remember Winamp?
I really dislike the "lockins" that the various music services have created.

Even though it is sometimes a bit buggy, I try to use Winamp to listen to web radio, real audio, mp3, WMA and etc. and this solves my need for one player for all these things (Real comes close but not quite). I also like the idea that the user community can extend Winamp to support all kinds of neat features. I don't use many of the plugins, but a few (like the add on sleep timer / wakeup alarm or some of the input and output plugins) are of real value. It also creates a real community of users when they share these things.

If there were a Winamp clone that included the integration of music purchasing and supported all formats, I would definitely be for it. I don't really care where I buy from, as long as they have what I want, but I resent having to have 4 different players to play music from four different "stores."
Posted by rickeclectic (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
itunes is worthless, about time
bloated, filled with nag screens, updaters and overall a growing piece of bloatware.

it will be good to see if someone can improve upon a novel idea.
Posted by Lite Rocker (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Really????
My iTunes has no 'nag screens', only occasional updates (which are
free, fast, and effective), and a relatively miniscule drain on system
RAM in either my Mac's or PC's.

Maybe you're not running a real copy of iTunes???
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
By "worthless" you mean "invaluable"...?
No nag screens at all if you don't use the music store (sign up for free if you don't want them there), updaters aren't very frequent at all, and yeah, it has far more features than other comparable software, so it's big.

If you want small, get Winamp and spare yourself (and everyone around you) the whining.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Link Flag
I wouldn't say that
Bloated? Perhaps. But I still believe that iTunes is the best jukebox out there. Nothing comes close to it organizational features.

I've always told myself that if MS were to create a great software bundle like iTunes I'd jump ship in a heartbeat. I'd like the choice in which audio player to buy instead of just the iPod.

Wasn't there some rumor about MSN giving away free music if you went from iTunes over to MSN Music?
Posted by jakec (25 comments )
Link Flag
Curious statistics.....
"Microsoft's Media Player accounts for 45 percent of all PC music
playing, Apple's iTunes captures 17 percent, and the rest fall off
sharply from there, according to U.S. statistics from the NPD
Group."

Looks like WMP isn't exactly carrying it's share of the PC user load.
Could it be that people are finding MS stuff to not be the best????
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Three panes make music sound better
All my music sounds better coming from software with 3 media panes. I'm glad Apple took the trouble to have a frivolous patent filed for 3-media-pane media players. I think all media is best played using 3 media panes. How could anyone want more or fewer panes? Apple is awesome.
Posted by paulhebert (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed
The 3 pane sound gives you the full experience. I've heard that the human ear can't distinguish the sound difference from a player with more than 3 panes.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
It's all good - but don't expect it to be great
I think they should have created a beta (or even an alpha) first, before making their grand proclamations.

They're just trying to raise cash now - let's see what actually gets built.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bust the Trust!
Yes, Apple makes a great system. As long as you only have Apple software, only buy music from Apple, and allow your entire music collection to be hijacked into an Apple-only file format.
Apple is to music what Microsoft is (was) to browsers: monopolistic and scary. I'm happy to see anyone attempt to bust the monopoly.
If a music label (Sony, for example) insisted that you buy only its technology to hear the music, the Apple fanatics would be the first to complain. Now, what happens five years down the road when Sony or another mega-corp buys Apple? Hmmm ...
Posted by Wayne Davis (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
it's because
ms BAD
apple good

So apple can monopol-ize, drm-ize, proprietary-ize, refuse to share code-ize, lock their products together-ize and all other sorts of things and only be greeted with louder and louder cheers of "-ize agree!" (lol) from this lot that is swimming in the c/net pool

quite boring actually...
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
Link Flag
Apple makes a great system....
Apple makes a great system, so you can't say that it's anything
like Microsoft. Microsoft has never been great at anything except
at selling a lot of product. Their software is good, their
operating system works but has major shortcomings. It's
nothing like the synergy of the Apple ecosystem.

To that end, it's not scary at all that a population is drawn to the
superior thing.

What is scary isMicrosoft's monopoly--they make mediocre
products which everyone looks first to because of cost or
laziness. It's weird how people's expectations are so drastically
different for computers and mp3 players.
Posted by rdersh (2 comments )
Link Flag
Misconception
Yes, Apple makes a great system. As long as you only have
Apple software
Such a dumb statement...why reply?

only buy music from Apple, and allow your entire music
collection to be hijacked into an Apple-only file format

Wrong on all three counts...do some research your ignorance is
obvious. You can encode your music in a variety of formats
including: AAC, Protected AAC, WAV, AIFF, Apple loss-less, MP3,
Variable bitrate MPS &#38; can convert unprotected WMA to AAC. It
is the only full cross platform solution available. Which one of
these plays for sure players can not play MP3's? Most people
don't buy their music online. Encode your own music from your
own CDs in the variety of formats mention above. Burn a CD of
Apple's Protected AAC (DRM) Guess what? the DRM is gone...re
encode to any of the formats listed above.

Apple is to music what Microsoft is (was) to browsers:
monopolistic and scary. I'm happy to see anyone attempt to bust
the monopoly.

That's funny. You don't like iTunes you have other choices. Go
exercise them. Look up the definition of monopoly. Typical MS
zealot whining. Apple's DRM is different than MS, Sony...explain
why?

If a music label (Sony, for example) insisted that you buy only its
technology to hear the music, the Apple fanatics would be the
first to complain

Ahhh...they do. For online music they have their own DRM. Also,
they do it with other products. I just bought a Sony Digital
camera...Guess what Einstein...The Memory stick is proprietary.
I think MS should allow me to play Xbox games on my Play
station &#38; on my Mac or PC. Grow up.

Now, what happens five years down the road when Sony or
another mega-corp buys Apple? Hmmm ...

Slim chance...highly doubtful. Apple's stock is at an all time high
&#38; the company is financially strong &#38; growing. Their clicking on
all gears. Hmmmmmmm.......
Posted by scweezil (171 comments )
Link Flag
why don't they just use ajax
I suppose some might look at this as a plausible sounding start-up. Firefox - good. iTunes - good. Combine the two, you can't go wrong. Investors don't need to be clear on the specifics to see some kind of Web 3.0 music version of a late-90s-bubble Netscape, imagine cartoon characters with dollar signs in their eyes. But the practical value of this isn't at all clear to me. Isn't it little more than a sophisticated web-based application, more like a music aggregator / web service than an iTunes-style music store (like, more in common with Google News or Maps than Firefox)? I can't see how DRM gets worked into this, and the implication is that it's going to be about web-based music as opposed to downloads so DRM won't apply anyway. And if that's so, why oh why build yet another piece of software that can instead be done with ajax? If you've read this and you think I've totally missed the boat please feel free to clear up my thinking on this. It's an intriguing notion but I don't see any value beyond that.
Posted by tipper_gore (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
proably not
You need codecs for playback, support for devices, scan drive, all this require local modules so AJAX is not the solution. Read up on XPCOM and XUL and it makes sense.
Posted by Trupberg (1 comment )
Link Flag
Whats ajax?
Sorry i dont know what ajax is what i do know is that I want to play my music that I paid for on some other types of mp3 player beside Ipod.These things cost way to much for me to take out on a construction site.
Posted by donkill (3 comments )
Link Flag
Duh, what about content?
Will Songbird work with all the various drm schemes going around? If it's just another jukebox, then don't expect all the open source fans around to flock to it on that account.

I use FF, OOo, Gimp, and a lot of other open source software - when it makes sense. But I still pick the best software for the job - commercial or otherwise.

Quite frankly, I like the entire iTunes package. The songs in the store are of decent quality, the drm is at least reasonable, and the player is quite versatile (I even use it to catalog my pdfs).

I wish this group well. If they can produce a product as superior to iTunes as FF is to IE, then I'll definitely be giving them a look. But it will have to work with my AAC files, purchased and ripped, and it will have to have full iPod functionality.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My prediction...
Next December, this will figure prominently on the Top 10 Vaporware List for 2006.
Posted by sdengineer (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly
Great ideas are a dime a dozen, but this five man team is up against not only Apple, but Microsoft et al. I hope they have a good legal team b/c I bet this will get the RIAA's attention as well and we all know they want their royalties.
Posted by JadisOne (13 comments )
Link Flag
I can see how this can work and profit, its about time!
After your friends have ICQs,Yahoo Messanger and MSN Messanger chat accounts what do you do to connect to them with just one app? use apps like "Adium X 0.84" that gathers them all. Man, what a solution!

With a similar issue generated by different music and media vendors, the music business need a killer application that is able to gather them all.Although not wil all teh same features as is spected, we'd love to get iTunes songs or AOL music or Real at any time they offer better prices or we can't find some artists. We need an application to do just this.

From teh client point of view, It will encourage me to even get more music than I do now.
Posted by bertmg (230 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Songbird
The Product:

Songbird is a blending of XULRunner with sqlite and media playback plugins already published as moz plugins (right now we prefer vlc, but they're swappable).

The database drives the media library. The browser renders our UI, runs the scripts that control the app, and renders remote webpages. The media plugins should play just about any piece of media you can come up with -- after you download a "greyware" bundle (from someone else) containing all the codecs that are illegal for us to just give you directly.


The Purpose (for Users):

Having a web-enabled media experience is actually useful. This position, however, is hard to defend from just words and screenshots, I'm well aware.

As but one minor example, what if you context click on a track in your playlist and select "lyrics through google" from the popup menu that shows up, and have google pop with all the different places that have lyrics for that song? You click one of those, read the lyrics, sing along happily, and then hit the back button twice (or the tab) to get back to your playlist. Why would you want to copy and paste into firefox for that?

I'm sure anybody with half an imagination can come up with a bazillion more use cases for why a web browser in a media player (under the complete control of the user, unlike most browsers in other media players) is a good good good thing.

And it's hardly "bloat" since it's built in for free.


The Purpose (for Companies):

Sony, Yahoo, AOL, Amazon, eMusic, CDBaby, etc etc etc etc. All have plenty of content they want to sell into the marketplace. And great web dev teams. And they pretty much can't write desktop software very well at all.

Sony, Creative, iRiver, Archos, etc etc etc etc. All have plenty of portable hardware they want to sell into the market place. And great hardware engineering teams. And they pretty much can't write user facing desktop software very well at all, either.

iTunes is winning the digital music marketplace lion's share (90+%?) because it comes to the table with all three pieces: Content + Software + Hardware. And the way they're trying to keep their share is by ensuring that their three don't work with ANYTHING else. You get iTunes the way Apple has decided you get iTunes.

"Plugins" and "Dev Community" and "Interoperability" are anathema to Mr Jobs.

He's the epitome of the Cathedral. We're putting down the chalk lines to mark the edges of our Bazaar.

Now, I couldn't build an iPod from scratch to save my life. And I wouldn't dream that anybody would want to pay for what I comically attempt to believe is my singing voice.

Even without content or hardware, however, I could build a media player with my eyes closed by now.

What happens if the software I build invites all the content people and all the hardware people to come party with us?

What happens if the media player I build just happens to be a web browser? Such that integration of their company's services into a media player winds up requiring HTML/XUL/JS instead of C++ and they don't have to use a dreaded compiler any longer?

Nor do they have to further splinter a "media player" space that already has WAY too many products that are each tied to only one company.

So, then, if your media player had FIVE major digital music stores installed into it, all of them competing for your dollar, do you still think you'd have to pay that whole dollar for just one song?

Level the playing field.

Everybody (except the current 800lb gorilla in Cupertino) wins.

mig
Posted by migmigmig (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Already available in WMP?
I just fired up Windows Media Player 10. I click on the little drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner and it lists over 15 online stores/radio stations that I can connect to. While very cool, that feature hasn't exactly set the world on fire, has it. What makes you think Songbird will do any better?
Posted by mrvista (22 comments )
Link Flag
TVedia is doing something similar already
TVedia 4.0 from 8 Dimensions uses a similar markup+JavaScript technology for a media player's front end, so web site can serve user interface and content to the media player (Media Center), except that a new markup language capable of 3D dynamic UI is used instead of XUL. The use of a new markup language makes it possible to serve Media Center Edition (MCE) like UI. The software's UI engine is also designed for 10ft user interface used by Media Center PC and Home Theater PC (HTPC).

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.8dim.com/tvedia4.0/default.asp?linkid=4.0" target="_newWindow">http://www.8dim.com/tvedia4.0/default.asp?linkid=4.0</a>

The software is still in pre-release stage, but in 2 weeks we will demonstrate in CES 2006. The linked pages above have screenshots for the software, but it really doesn't do justice to the dynamic nature of the UI. Drop by our booth for a demo.
Posted by zhongc (2 comments )
Link Flag
Why pick on iTunes instead of WMP?
The article says WMP accounts for 45% for music played on PC's
while iTunes is 17%. So who does the guy go after in his tirade?
iTunes? I don't get it.
Posted by lkrupp (1608 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why? Because WMP sucks!
Though Chevys may (hypothetically) make up 40 % of the market, who in their right mind would design a car based on a Chevy? If I were to make an economy car, I'd base it on a beemer, but use cheaper parts and labor so that it wouldn't cost as much. This is the same principle here. Why emulate the crappy, even when the crappy has the greatest usershare? ITunes is sexy, that's why he's copying it. Good comment, though.
Posted by CNerd2025 (98 comments )
Link Flag
Great
This is what the we need.

-An open usable Media Player, that will
-support various online shops
-different music formats
-different portable players.
-and improve current designs

I, for one, likes itunes, but there
i things i dislike abt it as well.
And I will never buy an ipod,
becos steve locks up everything
to apple.
Posted by rslc (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Example of Patent Flaw
another example of patent law flaws.

Why dun Microsoft patent the IE Browser
side panel design,
or the its Office designs.

How about patenting
popup menus, pulldown menus, bubble help,
or the 2/3-button mouse design?
Then only Windows will have these.
Posted by rslc (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Patent other folks work!
It would be hard for Microsoft to patent other people's work.
Though this hasn't stopped Microsoft before in this regard.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
Slimserver anyone?
I believe I've been doing this with www.slimdevices.com for some time now... free software, optional hardware.
Posted by jdsmith123 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
it's the webservices, stupid
Is everybody taking crazy pills? enough with the comparisons to iTunes, WinAmp, Foobar, Foobz, etc.

The one and only interesting thing about Songbird is that it will be open to all web stores. That, not the layout and nothing else, is revolutionary.

The whole point is that right now Apple has a stranglehold on the world of music stores, and its market share is growing constantly. And it grows mostly because iPod is popular and the services to iTunes are very very closed source and evil.

The fact that Songbird may open up the race to others, or in fact get rid of the race at all is huge. Every small band will be able to set up shop and sell directly with a little bit of HTML and javascript. And big stores like Amazon will be able to compete with Apple - I can't wait for that.
Posted by mrcheese (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed
I agree with the basic premise of your comment, although I'm not sure what damage, if any, Songbird will do to Apple Music Store. Yes, other music services will be able to compete, but they are able to compete now. Apple has an advantage in the Mac market, since many services, like Yahoo's music service refuse to make their software OS X compatible. The iPod is still the best MP3 player, IMHO.

Nonetheless, Songbird will open up the market of music, and we will be able to use multiple music services and comparison shop, without having to download a bunch of different jukeboxes.
Posted by yfan (26 comments )
Link Flag
"PlaysForSure" more closed than "FairPlay"!
WMP and PlaysForSure is just as closed (if not more) than iTunes and FairPlay. iTunes is at least cross-platform to Windows and Mac whereas WMP (Napster, etc...) is Windows-only. The iPod itself plays friendly with the BIG 3 platforms; Windows, Mac and Linux, making the iPod the cross-platform standard whereas all the other "PlaysForSure" devices are again a Windows-only thing that has nothing significant to offer the consumer and is totally unappealing to a cross-platform computing world in which we live and compute (hence the real world of computing)!

I too am looking forward to Songbird's real potential in the consumer market since we could use such a solution to enhance cross-platform compatibility even more than what is available today. May the best solution win in the end of course :-)
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
iSongs Anyone?
There ALREADY IS an Open Sourced iTunes workalike..

It's from Linspire, Inc. and it's called iSongs.

It works great!

Why would anyone want to make YET ANOTHER?

Just contribute to iSongs, and maybe port it to Windows and MacOS?
Posted by Mage66 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
LSongs, it's called LSongs
Not only is LSongs like itunes it will also sync your music to your Ipod. Linspire is putting the libraries it created for this on sourceforge so others can write new apps too :)
Posted by linit (1 comment )
Link Flag
Been there, done that...
It's called Amarok. A Windows and a Mac port
would not be too hard.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please please
I will support anyone who wishes to create an intelligent, useful, configurable music library manager.

MusicMatch almost got there with its library management but is now history,
MediaMonkey thinks it's better than it is,
WinAmp is clunky,
and about 15 others I have tried are worse.

Pleae relieve me of my misery as my library is over 50000 songs.

Thanks
Posted by mythos1952 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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