Google have launched their online music store across the US, now allowing devices running Android software to stream, buy and store MP3 files.
The library has been provided with 13 million songs by music industry heavy weights, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and 23 independent labels.
Interestingly Warner Music Group have decided not to take part in the venture.
The service now poses more competition to Apple’s iTunes dominance, launched in 2003, spurned along by the companies iPod popularity.
However a new study by Gartner suggests that over 50% of smartphones sold from July to September ran Android software, accounting for more than 60 million handsets.
In comparison, Apple’s iOS handsets (to you and me that’s the iPhone) accounted for only 15% of the market, during that time frame.
The service will also see integration from Google+, Google’s growing social network. Users will be able to share songs with their ‘Circles’ and contacts, who will be able to listen to the track in full length, once, without purchasing it.
The songs will vary in price the cheapest being 69 cents (44p) and the most expensive being $1.29 (88p), and come without DRM copy-protection. The site is also going to pick up new users fast with an offer to download a track for free, everyday.
Exclusive content will be available on the network, one of which being rapper Busta Rhymes – who was present at the launch event – who is debuting his new album on the Android Store. The Rolling Stones and Coldplay are going to offer previously unheard live performances.
Google are hoping to connect with new or smaller artists with the Artist Hub, where musicians can pay a $25 (£16) fee and upload their own music and charge what they want for it. But in the usual Google style, they will be taking a 30% share from each sale.
Google is not the only company trying to make a splash in the music industry. Blackberry launched their music service in the UK on Tuesday, offering users 50 DRM-protected tracks of their choice for £4.99. Members can also listen to their friends’ selection. This service is already widespread, being available in the US, Canada and Australia. Nokia have perused a different angle though, offering owners of the new Lumia 800 Windows phone the use of its Mix Radio app.
The software basically scans a users music collection and builds a customised radio station from the 15 million strong library. Clever Stuff.
Amazon already runs its own cloud based music service. The new Kindle Fire tablet was launched earlier this week which may well drive further sales from from the site.
Spotify has now expanded offering streaming subscription this July in the US, and offering apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phones.
But analysts still say there is room for manoeuvre for Google Music, despite the high competition.
“It’s not exactly innovative, but the reality is that Google will get success in the same way it has in other markets – by making the most of its strengths in search and Android, and it will keep chipping away,” said Colin Gillis, technology analyst at BGC Partners.
The chief executive of the UK-based 7digital MP3 store, Ben Drury, added that others may benefit from the search giant’s move.
“Google’s long overdue entry in the market is welcome as the company has a special market role, in helping combat piracy through the power to control search listings, Adwords advertising and dodgy MP3 apps on the Android market, and also in showing consumers there is choice beyond iTunes.”
No Plans were announced to release the netowrk outside of the US for the time being. However if whether Google Music will provide us with a legitimate competitor for iTunes is yet to be seen.
By Lucie Crouch