It was back in 2005 that I first heard about the Songbird music player. It worked in the same way as iTunes, but used XUL, the user interface markup language used by Firefox and other Mozilla products. It wasn’t a Mozilla product, however, but was instead developed by a company called POTI – Pioneers of the Inevitable – made up of a number of ex-WinAMP folks.
I reviewed the first user preview in 2006, and kept up with the development of it for some time – maybe even as late as 2011. But it never became my main media player. On my Mac, it was always slower and less stable than iTunes, which may be a hard concept for Windows users to fathom, I admit. But at some point I got rid of it off my computer as I clearly wasn’t using it.
Evidently I wasn’t the only one. Songbird has announced the cessation of all development, both of its desktop music player and Android and iOS apps, as of next Friday (I didn’t even know there was a Songbird iOS app until I started writing this blog post).
It’s a shame, as Songbird showed a lot of promise in the early days, but understandable. iTunes is still the unstoppable behemoth of media players despite everyone apparently hating it. Windows Media Player is also a lot better than it used to be and is still shipped with (almost all) new Windows computers. And POTI recently ceased development of its Linux port, allowing the likes of Amarok and Tomahawk to become the default players of popular Linux distros like Ubuntu. Plus WinAMP is still going after all of these years.
Songbird’s open source nature means that its death needn’t be permanent. Whilst its original developers have abandoned it, at least one fork is already available in the form of Nightingale, which crucially still runs on Linux. The Songbird may be dead, but its song will hopefully live on.