There are several expectations for product announcements at Google I/O this week, and an online music service is among them. The official launch is expected today, and Google appears to be going rogue.
That is to say that Google is doing this with or without the help of the major music labels, which could turn out to be very problematic later. As told to Peter Kafka over at All Things D, Google's director of Android product management Jamie Rosenberg said:
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.
Because of this, it doesn't look like Google Music will come across as a very innovative concept. The Wall Street Journal reports that the service will closely resemble the program Amazon revealed earlier this year:
Users of the service are expected to be able to listen to songs they have uploaded to the service in a so-called streaming mode but won't be able to download the files themselves. That limit appears to be a bid by Google to hinder the service from being used to spread pirated music.
Presumably, users will be able to stream that content to their computers and Android devices. Although consumers won't be able to buy anything from Google, there are a few perks to using Google Music over Amazon. Google Music users will be able to store up to 20,000 songs for free, whereas Amazon only permits free storage space for an estimated 2,000 tracks. Additionally, Google Music supports the creation of playlists. It remains to be seen how much Google will charge for additional storage space or whatever else it decides to throw in.
At first glance, the WSJ description of Google Music also doesn't sound far off from Sony's Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity. (At least Google Music has a less atrocious long name.) However, Music Unlimited is more like a Netflix for music with a set of monthly subscription fee choices for unlimited playback of over six million songs. As long as the PlayStation Network isn't down, it seems like the better option.
Google is going to have a fairly impressive list of specs and/or prices to introduce this afternoon or Google Music is going to be a hard sell. Based on the details discovered by now, the service doesn't seem to have much going for it. Who wants to bet now whether or not Google Music will go the way of Google Wave?
Related coverage on ZDNet:
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- Google's flagship Nexus 4G now available via Sprint
- Comscore: Android leads RIM, Apple in U.S. smartphone market