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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 hanishkvc on 9/17/2010 8:08:18 AM , Rating: 0
Hi Tony,

Not sure you understand the Android Devices and platform or AOSP full.

First the core stack (i.e the OS, libraries, Application stack) of the AOSP is licensed (as well as freely available in source form) such that anyone can including you (if you are interested that is) or Microsoft or Apple or Nokia or ... can build a device using this and sell it to the world. Google cann't and won't do anything about it.

However at the same time it doesn't mean this will be same as any other Google certified/validated/... Android device. The main difference will be that Google in turn runs a set of services for their flavour of the Android products which includes among others mainly Android Market application, which allows you to download a large catalog of applications. Now if your device wants to support these specific Google services, then you require to follow the guidelines/... specified by them.

However if you want to, you can create your own parallel Android application Market, and Google wont/cannot stop you. Not only that any android device out there (including Google validated/certified ones) can access and run applications from your independent application market. All that a Google certified Android phone user requires to do is go and enable the option for installing applications from other sources in their Phone.

Now that is what makes it really open in all ways.

Obviously you cannt expect Google to allow access to some of the special Android specific services they run from your own Android based device/platform, unless you follow the guidelines/restrictions mentioned by them. At the same time, you have all the liberty to have a competing service which provides the same functionality for Android devices out their and if Device vendors are happy with your Solution and don't mind loosing the Google run Android specific services, then there is no issue. The Motorola issue potentially occured because they Motorola didn't want to loose out on things like Google_ANdroid_market (and a few others, but very small set of apps/services).

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.

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.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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