This week marks the launch of Google’s new online music store, which will allow devices running its Android platform to buy, store, and stream music in a direct challenge to Apple’s dominance of the online music industry.
Google’s music venture already has top names signed on to create its library of 13 million songs, such as music industry giants EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal. 23 independent record labels are also slotted to provide content.
The venture hopes to provide fierce competition to Apple’s iTunes store, which was launched in 2003 and was boosted by high sales of the iPod and other mobile devices.
Google is set to give Apple a run for its money, as research firm Gartner suggests that over half of all smartphones sold between July and September were Android-based devices. Apple’s iOS phones had only a 15% market share in the same period.
Apple is not Google’s only competitor, as Blackberry launched its BBM Music service in the UK on Tuesday of this week.
Blackberry offers 50 music tracks for £4.99 per month, and allows users to listen to their friends’ music.
The social aspect of music listening is not lost on Google either, as the music service is set to be integrated with its Google+ social network.
With this feature, subscribers to Google Music will be able to share their tracks with their friends, who can listen to the song in its entirety one time without any cost.
Tech-savvy internet freedom advocates will applaud the fact that its tracks, which can cost from less than a dollar to $1.29, come without DRM copy-protection.
Spotify, which allows users to sign in via Facebook and also allows them to share what songs they have listened to, has found a huge boost in profits from the marriage of music and social networking.
Critics wonder how Google will carve out a niche for itself amongst already-existing services such as Pandora, an internet radio service, and Amazon’s cloud based music service. But proponents say that Google has a smorgasbord of new customers with its huge share of the smartphone market, as well as a knack for maximising its strength in the basics, such as smart searching.