It's your digital radio friend... the GIMP

Ginger launches personalised online music player for Virgin services, looks ahead to mobile digital devices.

Ginger Online reckons it has launched the UK's first online radio companion. Called the... er... GIMP (Ginger Interactive Media Player), it is a pop up window that sits on the desktop and connects in real time to Virgin Radio's Internet broadcast.

In addition to the live feed, GIMP shows advertiser and station information, and on-demand access to news, weather and entertainment news.

According to Ginger, one of the major advantages GIMP offers is allowing listeners to buy whatever tune is playing when they log on by clicking through to the Ginger Shop. Music purchases will be sent via snail mail -- using the Yalplay distribution technology -- but John Ousby, online director for Ginger Media Group, was quick to point out that "this obviously opens things up for digital purchase in the future."

The move towards digital integration will allow the company to port radio content to a range of digital devices in the future, including mobile phones and digital radio receivers. "We can now start to look at radio as something other than content broadcast to a radio or PC," said Ousby.

GIMP is based on Windows Media Player and Macromedia Flash, with Ginger promising QuickTime and Real G2 Player versions of the interface shortly. "This is an important step for us, as for the first time we have had a real-time link from the backend to a user interface," said Ousby. "We now have a 100 percent digital player that recognises exactly what is playing when."

Other features to be added to GIMP include caching, which will allow listeners to hear the last five or six songs played, and an online ticket ordering service that will let listeners buy concert tickets for the bands being played.