Since its launch in April 28, 2003, iTunes has been the number one digital music store in the world, with millions of users and billions of downloads recorded so far. Just like Amazon before it, Google is trying to take on the daunting task of providing an Online Music Store with cloud coverage for its users, but the big battle is still ahead. Google’s product is not new and it’s not easy to call it innovative, either, since there’s not too much new to be put on the table for consumers.
But, what can Google do with its Music service is to find what consumers’ needs are and strive towards fulfilling them. As with Google+, which nobody at Google said was meant to destroy or dethrone Facebook, they just launched the product with features that were derived from the needs that appeared after privacy and oversharing issues have been “unleashed” upon social media netizens.
Google Music, The First Big Threat for iTunes
It was only a matter of time before someone were to challenge iTunes’ reign over the music industry, and with Google’s announcement of opening a Music Store, a much better version of the Beta they launched in May in the USA, it seems that the time is now. I think it was the logical way to go for Google, after launching itself in the mobile market with Android OS who now has a market share of 52%, according to some recent reports, and its acquisition of Motorola Mobility which gives us a glimpse of what’s to come in the near future: Google branded smartphones, wide distribution for the Android App Market, Music Store ready to be used by hundreds of millions and synchronized for the mobile market, perfectly integrated with lots of web services to give users the complete “Google experience”.
The Google Music Store will have some cool features for its users, hoping to get more and more to use it, thus reducing the gap lying between itself and iTunes. The policy is different from that of iTunes, where subscribers must pay a $25 fee for uploading their playlists in the iCloud, but on Google’s Music Store, your music will be saved in the cloud for free (up to 20,000 songs), as Google said in a press release:
“Other cloud music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t”
Google’s Music Service: Cheaper, Simpler than iTunes?
Google has already signed contracts with some of the most important record companies in the world (Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, Merlin as well as over 1000 prominent independent labels including Merge Records, Warp Records, Matador Records, XL Recordings and Naxos)
“We’ve also partnered with the world’s largest digital distributors of independent music including IODA, INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe Digital,…”
Music Store will be available on any device running Android 2.2 or later via its browser or app and on Apple’s Safari player, so that iPhone and iPad users can benefit from its 13 million songs, some are free, and others at the same price of Apple’s iTunes: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. In a post on one of Google’s blogs, they said that users can listen to their music even when offline, via an app that allows the download of the mp3’s users buy, thus giving users the possibility to use devices other than Android phones, unlike Apple who “forces” users to have an iPod or an iPhone to listen to their downloaded tracks.
In the press release, Google declared that all of it’s users playlists (bought or uploaded) will automatically sync, so where ever you are, you can have your favorite playlist with you-
“We’ll keep your playlists in tact, too, so your ‘Chill’ playlist is always your ‘Chill’ playlist, whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or phone. You can even select the specific artists, albums and playlists you want to listen to when you’re offline.”
Google Music Seems to be More Versatile than iTunes
Google will let users upload their music and sell it via the Music Store, with only a one-time fee of $25, but they only get 70% of their earnings, not much but its a step forward in supporting artists. Another feature of Google’s Music Store that is beyond iTunes is the possibility of listening to the songs one time before you have to download, a feature that will certainly appeal to users who have a hard time deciding weather to download a song or not.
There are those who think Google just has too much money to spend and that is why it’s going for the music market, who already has Apple and Amazon as the main players, but, in fact, I see it as a natural way to go, providing Android users with their own music store and with some benefits over iTunes and Amazon MP3 Market. If iTunes was an important factor when deciding what phone to buy, the introduction of Music Store will definitely steal that advantage away from Apple.
We’ll see what the future brings for Google, if the Music Store will be a mach for iTunes or if it will just be a passing trend, but from Google’s past successes, I think Apple has to start worrying. As for now, Music Store is still in Beta testing for users in the US, but I can hardly wait for the worldwide debut. This is one step towards an unification of all of the user’s services across the web, under one roof, like it or not, with the Google name stamped on it.