It fits better than you might think. Last year, the search engine began linking to iLike and Pandora through its search engine, letting users stream songs with a single click from Google’s search page. Any music lover can appreciate searching for a song and then hearing it that quickly, whether they’re planning to buy it, following up on a memory, or heard from a friend that they might like it.
So actually getting into the business seems like a logical next step. As of yet, it’s unknown whether Google and any companies in the music industry have struck any deals. But the search giant seems to be envisioning a service open to users of phones with Google’s Android operating system, as well as regular web surfers. Those familiar with the talks say it will be months before Google opens a virtual music store.
Coming on the heel of news that Google is trying to add professional content to its YouTube video site, and open a digital bookstore sometime this year, one wonders if the search engine is attempting to become a content destination. That hasn’t worked out for Yahoo, but by the time that venerable search engine made the transition, Google had become the leading search engine. Visitors were no longer starting at Yahoo for search, and if you’re having trouble getting them to the site in the first place, it’s harder to keep them. Google doesn’t have that problem.
But the search giant could have other problems down the line. An online music store would add another element of stress to Google’s relationship with Apple, which is already suffering from the Android operating system’s competition with Apple’s iPhone. In the cell phone market, the two companies take entirely different approaches. Apple sells the proprietary iPhone, hardware and software, and negotiates with wireless companies to offer it as part of a contract. Google, on the other hand, negotiates with phone manufacturers to have them use the Android operating system on their smartphones – which should allow Androids to come in different flavors and be offered by a variety of wireless carriers.
On the other hand, monopolies are often loved and hated in equal measure – and Apple’s long shadow in online music retailing has made it a few enemies among the labels themselves. Google’s entry into the online music biz could act as the counterweight the recording industry has been looking for.
Music industry insiders expect the store to work in conjunction with Google’s search engine – if you search for a particular group or song on Google.com, you’ll get a link to the company’s music store. Later, this could lead to a cloud-based subscription service that will let users of the Android phone stream music directly from the Internet, so that they wouldn’t need to store the files on their own devices.
Check out the Wall Street Journal article for the full details.