Is Google Planning an Android Music Store?

Apple, one of Google’s main rivals in the mobile (operating system) industry, is also the operator of the number one digital music store in the US. However, recent reports suggest Google may be planning its own attempt at breaking the market and reclaiming some share from the Cupertino crew. An alleged Gingerbread screenshot shows the ability to sync music with an Android handset, but the real question is whether it will be a success like Android itself, or a failure due to a lack of mainstream user adoption as was Wave.

Google and Music

Google’s history is not bare of music, as Mountain View have been testing these type of streaming and over-the-air features before. Back in September last year, more “details” emerged about Google’s efforts to build an iTunes killer. The proposed form of the service would be based in-browser — with a possible Android app accompaniment. Some of these songs would then be able to be downloaded for later offline play.

Google does, however, host other music services. Not only does it offer a music search feature, but hosts a music repository in the form of YouTube. Obviously this type of music streaming is entirely first-party with the labels themselves uploading music, but we’re sure this type of proprietary music service would be more open to million dollar deals.

Google apparently already has plans for a music streaming service in production. Image credit: Engadget.

Apple and Music

Obviously Apple have a completely different stance on music with their aforementioned iTunes service being one of, if not the, most popular digital music service available. However, the current rumor mill output in the Apple ecosystem is that of a streaming service following Apple’s acquisition of Lala. Also, new reports suggest that Apple may be moving iTunes entirely to the cloud as part of its Safari app (surely a tactic to increase their browser usage at the same time).

Whilst Apple maintains its lead in the music industry, it is going to be harder for Google to join them with iTunes being a major part of the Apple ecosystem. Which brings us nicely to our next point…

Opposing Ecosystems

Both Apple and Google maintain very strong ecosystems. Apple’s centers around media, whilst Google’s centers around data. These work in unison very well, but Google’s attempt to breach this may fail with iOS being deeply connected with iTunes. As a primary iOS user myself, I use iTunes mainly because of its deep integration with the software, but also because I have to use it. Google doesn’t have this natural advantage with no need to connect Android devices with any sort of Google software in order to use it.

Also, it would be very bad for Google to not attempt to move forward onto iOS with these plans too. If Apple does indeed release a streaming service, it will probably be also integrated into iOS, encouraging most users to choose it over rival services. Google doesn’t have a hope of breaching these users’ natural choice of iTunes, but it may have an amicable opportunity to share some of the market that their would-be rivals hold.

So Will Users Adopt It?

Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: It depends.

Sure, some will adopt it naturally as part of their Android experience, but outside of any deep connection with Android, Google might not see the right kind of user adoption. Services like Spotify and Pandora hold most of the share on iOS, so a cross-platform service from Google would have difficulty breaking in.

Most will be up to pricing strategy. Google does have an ethos of free-first-pay-later with some of their services — like calling inside GMail, which gives you free credit before you start paying. If Google offered a free first month of streaming to its users, millions of their existing users would jump on board. But will that get the approval of the labels? No idea.

Would you use a Google music service if it were free? Paid? On iOS? On Android? Let us know in the comments!

  • Mike Hayes

    Firstly, congratulations on launching [email protected] I’m a big fan of Web AppStorm and as a Google lover plus Android user, I’ve had this blog in my feed reader since it was announced.

    I personally actually find the Android user interface easier to use than iOS, however that may be because of my long use of Android rather than iOS. The reason for swinging to Android when I first became a smartphone user was the fact that it was open, plain and simple.

    Anyway onto topic. For me, Spotify is the music service of choice. I have not had my own music library (apart from around 3 tracks) since around a year ago. iTunes was always the best software for me back then but now my own MP3 collection sits backed up on a DVD. Spotify really does it for me now for all kinds of reasons, streaming (with offline caching) is the future! I think that Spotify has been really well made, the interface is great and the Android app is great too.

    That being said, if Google brought out a similar service I would be inclined to give it a go and as long as they did it right… I would have little issue switching over to have everything “in one place” at Google, logging in with my Google account etc.

    What would be great is if Google’s service was web based, I would much rather launch a solid web app than a “native” program. This also means I can access the service from anywhere with a simple web browser, including from Google’s Chrome OS devices when they come along. There is already such a service (We7), but I’ve found their music library to be nowhere near as good as Spotify’s and unfortunately they haven’t done the *best* job on the interface for the website…

    Anyway it’s late and I’ve gone on a little, I hope this post was useful rather than just boring ramblings! I’m looking forward to your future posts guys! :)

    • Mike Hayes

      Oh and not to mention the fact that this could integrate well with Google TV (though with that being based on Android I guess it may come under the same class).

      Android, Chrome OS (or in fact any web browser) and Google TV – they have the distribution channels already :) Lets hope they do this right..

      + their search capabilities for not only locating tracks but coupling information with it (artist info etc) as well as even bringing in music videos straight from Youtube.

  • mv

    i second the spotify choice.
    i’m an osx and android(n1) user myself.

    i wish google would’ve succeeded in acquiring spotify. i doubt google’s ability to just pull out a service w/ spotify’s brilliance over night and even if they could, it’d be sad, since spotify are the true pioneers.

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