Will offer free storage for 20,000 songs

Google has been rumored to be working on a cloud-based music service for some time now. And with the recent launch of a similar service from Amazon and an impending one from Apple, the wait for Google to unveil its version might be coming to an end.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google could lift the curtain on its new music service as soon as later today.

According to the report, Google hasn't obtained licenses from the four major record companies. This little detail has gotten Amazon into hot water with its Cloud Drive product. But Google's version is said to allow users to upload their music to the cloud, but only stream it back on other devices, without the ability to download it, in what appears to be an attempt to limit piracy.

Google is expected to unveil the new service at its annual Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco later today. According to WSJ, sources say that the music service, like many of Google's new products, will first be tested in a beta mode -- limited to a small number of users -- before becoming available to the public en masse.

For the time being, Google's music services will be fairly limited, akin to what insiders call a "passive" locker, which doesn't require licenses. But the company's initial plans were much grander, writes Peter Kafka in his "MediaMemo" blog at All Things Digital. According to Kafka, Google had been meeting with record label executives in an effort to launch a more robust music service, but talks stalled and Google decided to launch a scaled-down version rather than nothing at all.

"Unfortunately, a couple of the major labels were less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms," Jamie Rosenberg, a spokesperson for Google's Android platform, told Kafka.

One of Google's weaknesses is that its music service will not come with an attached music-purchasing platform, as is the case with Cloud Drive and Amazon MP3. Users will have to purchase their music elsewhere and load it to the Google system. 

According to Kafka, Google's service will allow users to store 20,000 songs in beta form, compared to 5GB (approximately 2,000 songs) that Amazon offers.

Meanwhile, according to WSJ, Apple is meeting with record industry executives to secure licensing for a music service that it expects to be more robust than either offering from Google or Amazon. 

Stay tuned for an official announcement from Google. 

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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