Home Can Google’s Upcoming MP3 Store Compete With iTunes?

Can Google’s Upcoming MP3 Store Compete With iTunes?

In May, Google launched a long-awaited music service that landed with somewhat of a thud. Compared to some of the rumors that were flying around, Google Music turned out to be a rather basic offering. It was nothing more than a “cloud locker” for one’s own music files. Not a streaming service. Not an MP3 store. Instead, the service was more analgous to Amazon’s Cloud Drive, except without an accompanying music store.

That’s about to change, according to a report from the New York Times. Google is currently in negotiations with music labels to launch an MP3 store as part of Google Music. The move would put Google in more direct competition with Amazon and Apple, the latter of which is the market leader in digital music sales.

iTunes Match and Apple’s iPod Advantage

The news comes just as Apple is putting the finishing touches on iTunes Match, a cloud-based music storage service that can be purchased as an add-on to the company’s popular digital music ecosystem. Rather than require users to upload every song they purchase (as Google and Amazon do), iTunes Match will scan one’s local collection of music and find each song in Apple’s massive library of music. Those tracks are then made available to the user from any Apple device.

One thing Apple has that Google doesn’t is dominance in the personal music player hardware market. Yes, Google has smartphones and tablets, but Apple has smartphones, tablets and iPods. It remains unknown at this point whether Google will develop iOS apps for Google Music. Since it’s selling content, Google may opt to forgo Apple’s revenue-sharing requirements and create an HTML5 Web app, much like Amazon did with Kindle Cloud Reader. For now, Google Music is only available on Android devices and via the desktop.

Resistance From Music Labels

Google reportedly had a hard time shoring up deals with music labels ahead of the initial launch of Google Music, so they launched it anyway. Traditional content owners have often been wary of Google, who has gained a reputation among some legacy media organizations as being too soft on piracy. The company has extended a few olive branches recently, making public efforts to discourage copyright infringement and buttering up media executives.

For its part, Apple has secured the licensing rights necessary to make iTunes Match possible, and it obviously already has agreements in place with major music labels that enable it to sell digital music from the iTunes Store.

Google has an uphill battle to fight if it expects to take on Apple in this space. Amazon might provide a fairer fight. Either way, Google is hoping to bolt additional revenue streams onto its business model, which remains heavily bolstered by the money it makes search advertising.

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