Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Google Challenges Apple, Amazon with Music and Movies

In a missive aimed at Apple's ecosystem, Google debuted Music Beta at the Google I/O conference. Users of Android devices can upload music to Google's Music Beta and then stream it to PCs and mobile devices, and even listen offline. Android users can also rent movies. Apple is expected to debut a music service soon, while Amazon.com already has one.

This time, the rumors were true. Google Relevant Products/Services debuted a music service at the Google I/O conference Relevant Products/Services. And more than music -- movies -- as it cranks up the competition against Apple's ecosystem.

Dubbed Music Beta by Google, the new service lets Android smartphone Relevant Products/Services users upload their music collection to the cloud Relevant Products/Services for streaming. The music can stream to a mobile Relevant Products/Services device Relevant Products/Services or a PC.

"With the new service, your music and playlists are automatically kept in sync, so if you create a new playlist on your phone, it's instantly available on your computer Relevant Products/Services or tablet Relevant Products/Services," Hugo Barra, Android product management director, wrote in a blog post. "You can use a feature called Instant Mix to create a playlist of songs that go well together."

Offline Tunes

Barra said Android users can also listen to music offline. Music Beta by Google automatically stores a listener's most recently played music on his or her Android device. Users can choose to make specific albums or playlists available when they are not connected.

The service is launching in beta for U.S. users and is available by invitation. Google could run into trouble, though. That's because rumor has it that the search giant hasn't inked deals with record labels to stream music.

"Google reportedly was having trouble negotiating licenses with the record labels, so it has gone ahead and decided to launch its delayed music service," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "It will likely allow for uploading and storage Relevant Products/Services of music and streaming to connected devices, including Android handsets. But there doesn't appear to be a music store connected to this at this point. That could change if Google is later able to secure Relevant Products/Services the licenses from the major labels."

More Competition

Google didn't stop with an Apple onslaught. The company also added movies for rent to the Android market. Android device users can choose to rent from thousands of movies, starting at $1.99. Users can also rent a movie on a home computer and make it available for viewing on an Android tablet or phone.

Apple has yet to respond with a cloud-based music service, but analysts expect an announcement soon. Amazon.com was the first to market with a service that lets consumers store music in the cloud. In late March, Amazon announced a cloud-based streaming-music locker.

Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android let customers store and play music on Android devices. Amazon kicked the competition up a notch when it made an adjustment to its service that makes it possible for iPhone and iPad Relevant Products/Services users to tap into the Cloud Player service.

Even while the big boys duke it out in music, smaller competitors continue to emerge. On Tuesday, Exvo Music announced a cloud music service with a social twist. Unlimited storage on Exvo Music is free so long as users invite their friends. The service automatically sorts files into songs, albums and artists in alphabetical order, and even searches for matching cover art when users upload a new song.

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