Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is turning up the volume in its Android battle with Apple ((Nasdaq: AAPL) by launching Google Music – partnering with three of the four major labels, and eventually offering more than 13 million songs.
Music industry veteran, Patrick Sullivan, is the President and CEO of licensing services provider, Rightsflow, and has worked with Google.
“I think it’s going to create a need for consumers to look at other opportunities, to take away the consumers from going direct to iTunes and utilizing that Android Market of 200 million consumers and really puts a real fierce competition in place. I think it’s exciting and it gives consumers more choice.”
Google Music will be playing catch up with its rivals Apple and Amazon.
While iTunes is the dominant music player, Google has Android, which is the world’s No. 1 smartphone operating system. Google will allow consumers to share purchased songs with friends on its Google+ social network. And to jumpstart the service, users will get one free download every day.
Google will also offer a free cloud service to store up to 20,000 songs. Apple is playing a similar tune with its newly launched iTunes Match Locker. That service is $25 a year for 25,000 songs. But users don’t have to upload their music.
Regardless of the service, the cloud is where the digital music industry is heading.
Industry watchers say it will come down to devices. Consumers tied to Android will likely take a good look at Google Music, but with iTunes ingrained in today’s culture, Google has to hit just the right note.
Recent research from Gartner indicates that Google now lays claim to 52.3% of the smartphone market – more than double its marketshare last year. At the same time, Apple’s hold over the market declined slightly, from 16.6% last year to 15% in the last quarter.
Just take a look at the chart to see how Google is smoking the competition.
The battle between Apple and Google isn’t cooling down anytime soon, either.
Both recently released new flagship products: the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus.
And now, right before the holiday shopping spree begins, each company has announced some major updates to their music services.
Apple released iTunes Match, which essentially allows you to access your music library through the cloud from any device with iTunes onboard. And Google – which has already had a cloud music locker up and running since May – announced the addition of its own music store, finally making it a solid competition for Apple’s service.
So let’s see how the music services hold up under similar scrutiny, and how the result could affect smartphone dominance going forward.
When it comes down to these categories, Google’s new service clearly takes the lead.
To be clear, though, I’m not saying Google Music is an iTunes killer. In fact, for most people already devoted to Apple’s offerings, it probably won’t even show up on their radar.
But now that Google has leveled the playing field, at the very least it shows consumers that they don’t need to get an iPhone to enjoy a unified music experience.
And when you add Google’s superior hardware into the mix, expect Apple to continue struggling in its attempts to maintain marketshare.
Bottom line: Google Music opens for business just as iTunes launches its iTunes Match Locker, the latest punches in the increasingly fierce digital music business.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.