Philips To Bundle Songbird with Music Players

Songbird, the open source iTunes alternative (which we reported on earlier), has landed a big deal with Philips. The Dutch electronics manufacturer will bundle Songbird with its GoGear line of .mp3 players as the music management and sync tool. While this is good news for Songbird, there are is a catch.

Philips will indeed bundle songbird with its GoGear .mp3 players, but it won’t be a vanilla installation (where does that expression come from, anyway?). It will be Philips-branded, which is understandable, but it will have exclusive features like firmware upgrading that won’t be in the regular Songbird release. The regular Songbird will also work with the GoGear devices, but you won’t get firmware upgrading. In addition, Philips’ version is Windows-only for now, with a Mac variant in the works.

I’d say it would’ve been better if Philips donated the code and specifications to Songbird, so that the original developers can integrate it. Songbird could create a Device Stage-like experience within their application for third parties to latch on to. This would prevent fragmentation, while still allowing companies to shove their brands in our faces.

Those are niggles, though. This is good news for Songbird, and hopefully other manufacturers will follow. Google, Nokia, Palm – pay attention.

“Our partnership with Philips is a great step for us – it drives distribution, revenue, and an even tighter connection to the CE side of the world. Of course the partnership means more features to consider and trade-offs to balance – but in this case, that’s a great problem to have,” the Songbird team writes, “There is lots of overlap in desired features from both sides, so this probably means you’ll see some things accelerated, which is good news for all Songbird consumers.

I personally never understood why functionality like this couldn’t be built into the file manager, so you wouldn’t need a bloated and slow music management application. In my ideal world, devices like .mp3 players would follow a standard, where a simple sync button would appear within the file manager. The file manager would be metadata-aware, so you could just select the albums/songs you’d want transferred to your device, press sync, et voilà.

In a sane world, we wouldn’t need stuff like iTunes. In a sane world, operating systems would be designed properly to handle situations like this.

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