AOL Discontinues New Media Player

After seven months of beta testing, America Online has discontinued its new AOL Media Player software, replacing it with the subscription based digital music service it launched in November called AOL MusicNow. Variations of the software are still available in the AOL client and on AOL.com.

As first reported by BetaNews, AOL Media Player (AMP) ran independent of the company's client software and was one of many new efforts to expose AOL products and services to Web users outside its "walled garden" of subscribers.

AMP came complete with media library, video support and CD ripping to MPEG4 AAC or Microsoft's WMA formats. AMP also featured customizable smart playlists, integrated streaming audio from Radio@AOL, and audio CD burning.

The long-term plan for the software, however, was to use it as a delivery vehicle for a new music download service, similar to iTunes. But instead, AOL acquired digital music company MusicNow and replaced its MusicNet@AOL offering. Because MusicNow runs in a Web browser, the external client software was no longer needed.

AOL also faced criticism for developing two media player applications -- AMP and Winamp 5 -- simultaneously, seemingly overlapping efforts. AMP was partially based on Winamp code, but targeted to more mainstream consumers, as Winamp users aren't likely to visit AOL's other Web properties, the company said.

While the standalone application is gone, AMP technology has found its way to the Web. Most of the company's recently online audio and video offerings on AOL.com include a Web-based player.

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