Google Music Can't Win Against iTunes, But It's Still a Blow to Apple

Google is either clumsily following in some well-worn footsteps, or they just made a bold move toward their eventual goal of total world domination. No, I'm not talking about Google+ and Facebook (although the playing field seems awfully familiar), this time the subject is Google Music.

Google Music, Google's online music service that consists of a music store and "free locker" for digital music, was officially rolled out to the public on Wednesday. So far, reaction seems to be mixed, with many wondering if there's really any compelling reason to switch. After all, we already have iTunes and Amazon—what's Google bringing to the table?

It may be that Google Music's social features are enough draw people in, thus giving them a tasty piece of the $6.8 billion online music sales market … but it's also likely that this is all part of a long-term strategy for Google to win an even larger war.

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Google Music is expected to soon offer 13 million songs from three of the four top record labels (Warner Music is holding out thus far) as well as independent bands, and includes free cloud storage for up to 20,000 songs. In comparison, Apple's similar iMatch costs $25 a year, and the iTunes Store has about 20 million songs.

The new service will automatically sync your entire music library across all devices wirelessly. You'll need to download Google's Music Manager, and can then add your songs from iTunes, Windows Media Player or other stored folders. Score one for iTunes: Google users with a lot of music may have to wait several days for their entire catalogs to upload, while iTunes Match provides customers with access to the high-quality versions of songs that iTunes sells.


Apparently people who find songs through Google+ will be able to listen to each one in full for free one time before they buy. This round may go to Google, since iTunes only provides 90-second previews.


Speaking of Google+, Google Music purchases—including entire albums—can be shared across Google+ social network. This is being touted as a Very Big Deal, since according to Google:

Recommendations from friends are the single most important way that people discover new music. And we think that this social feature has the potential to really transform purchasing behavior.

Super, except what if you don't use Google+? Because I sure don't. I signed up, tried it out, then gave up when none of my friends were using it. Now I pretty much just get an endless stream of announcements that Mohanshamshtzjsjfjpahah Zephnmaaastinaan has added me to their circle.

Basically, there's nothing in Google Music that will compel me to use it in place of my trusty iTunes. Then again, Google may not care about that.


Away from the desktop, iTunes users are pretty much locked to their Apple devices. Which is great if you're a massive Apple fan like me, but if you're on the fence between an iPhone, and, say, an Android device, it's worth noting that Google Music will be viable across multiple devices.


The digital music market is cool and all, but you know what's really cool? The smartphone market.


The good news is that in a competitive environment, the customer usually benefits. Google Music may not be for everyone, but it's one more choice in an increasingly flexible digital world. Whoever wins in the end, we can all sit back and enjoy their efforts in the meantime.


What do you think about Google Music? Will you give it a try?


Image via Google

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