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Is iTunes going to be made obsolete by Google Music, the upcoming cloud-based service from the internet superpower?
iTunes may have met its match

Billboard magazine, one of the oldest and deepest entrenched music magazines, is citing multiple sources as having revealed secret details of Google's upcoming music service.

The new Google Music comes at a price -- $25 a year to be precise -- but it makes Apple's iTunes (in its current implementation) look like a dinosaur.  First the basics; the service will offer direct digital downloads much like Apple.

An album download will reportedly generally cost $7.  Most tracks will cost 70 cents, "superstar tracks" will cost 91 cents, and "catalog tracks" will cost 49 cents.

Your $25 subscription fee comes with a free online music "locker" -- a secure storage site in the cloud – in which you will be able to place your purchases.  From there they can stream your music to any compatible internet connected computer or device.  

The size of the locker was not revealed to the sources.

If that feature is not enough to make Apple blush, this will as well -- Google will be offering a one-time 
full preview, reportedly of every track in its library, similar to what did before Apple acquired it, killing the full-length previews.  Full previews certainly outdo iTunes 20 second previews of 4 minute tracks.

The app for the service would reportedly be entirely web-based, so you don't have to worry about installing pesky applications on your machines.  Additionally Google is reportedly planning on including a mild social network/song sharing service, similar to Apple's new Ping network, with Google Music.

And the biggest upside of all for Google is that the company obviously has vastly more ability to redirect internet traffic to its service than Apple.  While Apple can boast reaching hundreds of millions of users with its iDevices, Google can literally boast reach over a 
billion users worldwide.

The biggest trouble spot for Google, according to the report, is shaping up to be reticence from music labels.  Some industry officials called the proposal "a good start", but others promised that it would see resistance particularly on the issue of track costs and previews.

According to the sources Google's proposal calls for a "50-50" revenue split between master rights holders and Google, with music publishers receiving a 10.5% share.  It's unclear if that 10.5 percent is deducted before the split, or if it will come out of one of the two parties' shares.

The sources say Google is seeking to lock labels into a 3-year contract from the launch of the service in terms of pricing and features agreements.

Users would also be able to use their web app to scan their hard drives and upload files to their music locker -- including music from other services (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.), songs ripped from CDs (which the RIAA contends is "stealing"), and even songs obtained from P2P networks.  The latter is a thorny issue in the negotiations for labels, but they reportedly realize that it may be inevitable and are pushing Google to, in return, tighten restrictions on its search results to filter out P2P software and torrent sites.

It remains to be seen how music labels ultimately react to the proposal, but planned service certainly sounds like a good deal for customers.  And with music labels already fed up with Apple, they may begrudgingly embrace Google's terms as the lesser of two evils (in their eyes).  Armed with superior technology and brand reach, it might finally put an end to the era of iTunes reigning supreme in the world of digital music sales.

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RE: Google reminds me of.......
By Tony Swash on 9/17/2010 2:44:11 AM , Rating: 4
It is interesting to note that the replies to my first comment about Google acting like Microsoft has brought little comment. Mostly people want to respond to a far less significant and subsidiary comment about Google's market vulnerability.

Google is, for some reason, the darling around here. It gives some stuff away free and is attacking the iPhone and Apple and I suppose that endears them to a lot of people. I think, given the principles that most of you profess to have, that your affections are misplaced.

Skyhook Wireless, in their “complaint and jury demand” filed a document yesterday which covers Google’s control over which devices have access to the Android MarketGoogle and you can get the entire pdf here

download and read it. Then perhaps you people who claim that Google is a champion of openness can explain again how that works.

Here is an extract from the pdf

22. Google’s established practice in determining Android compliance consists of two steps. The first step requires each Android-enabled device, and its embedded software, to be run against the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), a software-based test platform that objectively evaluates whether the device and software are compatible with the published Android specifications. The second step involves a review of the device and software based on an amorphous outline of additional, non-standardized requirements known as the Compliance Definition Document (CDD). This entirely subjective review, conducted solely by Google employees with ultimate authority to interpret the scope and meaning of the CDD as they see fit, effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function “non-compatible” with the CDD.

23. On information and belief, Google has notified OEMs that they will need to use Google Location Service, either as a condition of the Android OS-OEM contract or as a condition of the Google Apps contract between Google and each OEM. Though Google claims the Android OS is open source, by requiring OEMs to use Google Location Service, an application that is inextricably bundled with the OS level framework, Google is effectively creating a closed system with respect to location positioning. Google’s manipulation suggests that the true purpose of Android is, or has become, to ensure that “no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other”, unless it is Google.

This article at Business Insider is worth a look

Here is a quote from that article:
All's fair in business, we suppose. But Google is now basically acting like heyday-era Microsoft here, throwing its weight around and screwing over small companies for its own gain. Google Android boss Andy Rubin went as far as to call Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha "multiple times" to impose a "stop ship" order on the company's phones, according to Skyhook's complaint.

Also, most companies don't have mantras like "don't be evil." And now, neither can Google -- not with a straight face, at least.

This move sounds especially evil because Android is supposed to be an "open" mobile platform for handset makers, with an open ecosystem -- one that theoretically lets handset makers and application developers control their own destinies. But it turns out "open" is only "open" in Google's world if it furthers Google's aims.

You are being conned, don't lose sight of your principles.

RE: Google reminds me of.......
By Tony Swash on 9/17/2010 2:53:41 AM , Rating: 2
Here is another extract from the complaint against Google. Straight out of Microsoft's old playbook. I suppose this too will be defended as championing openness.

In 2005, Google expressed an interest in Licensing Skyhook's XPS technology. In 2007, after the expiration of an evaluation license between the parties, Google asked Skyhook to provide Goggle with data from Skyhook's confidential and proprietary database of known Wi-Fi access points. Growing sceptical of Google's motives, Skyhook declined to provide this highly confidential information to Google. Ultimately, Google elected not to license Skyhook's technology for commercial use. Instead shortly thereafter Google began offering Google Location Services in competition with XPS positioning system.

RE: Google reminds me of.......
By hanishkvc on 9/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Google reminds me of.......
By Tony Swash on 9/17/2010 8:40:30 AM , Rating: 2
Now in a absolute sense, there is a small issue, in that Google could have been magnanimous here, but come on, at the end they are a for profit company and we have to give them atleast that much freedom to try and make some money or recognisation or ... for something they are providing for free along with others in the Android community.

So its OK for Google to use their power to pressure companies who are deploying Android into excluding competitors products/services through an explicit threat to isolate them in the Android community and shut them off from other Google services?

So this "free" thing comes with strings attached.

It seems an odd sort of "open" to me.

RE: Google reminds me of.......
By NaughtyGeek on 9/17/2010 11:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
No, no strings attached. You're free to use the core OS to your liking without encumbrance from Google. However, if you want added functionality from Google, there is a price to pay. There's the difference between the free (base) version and the version Google is licensing to OEMs. OEMs are free to cook their own ROM but said ROM may not have access to Google premium services/content.

By JKflipflop98 on 9/18/2010 10:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but I don't buy the whole "x company won't buy MY software so therefore they're evil" ideal. It's competition in the marketplace. If you can't deliver the item your customer wants, then you deserve to be shut out - not go to court and sue because you got picked last for the dodgeball game.

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