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Google To Take On iTunes? 277

Posted by samzenpus
from the battle-of-the-bands dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'Multiple sources say Google is preparing to launch Google Audio. According to people familiar with the matter, Google has been securing content from record companies. Is Google about to go head-to-head with Apple's iTunes?'
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Google To Take On iTunes?

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  • by scottblascocomposer (697248) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @11:56PM (#29831725) Homepage
    I'd be thrilled if Google could do a music player analogue of Picasa. I've always hated iPhoto, and Picasa is great. A similar product to displace iTunes would be incredibly welcome (and yes, I've tried Songbird; maybe someday, but it's not there yet).
    • I absolutely love Picasa. But I am not sure here we are talking about just a desktop application. I just hope Google buys Media Monkey (one of the very few proprietary s/w I use - even in its free version, its fantastic) and get done with the desktop application part.

      What is more important is the supplier aspect of this. What labels will it be? What and how much of Indie stuff? What all formats? Will it be better than Amazon in terms of content and delivery?
      • by Fred_A (10934)

        I absolutely love Picasa. But I am not sure here we are talking about just a desktop application. I just hope Google buys Media Monkey (one of the very few proprietary s/w I use - even in its free version, its fantastic) and get done with the desktop application part.

        I'd never heard of MediaMonkey but the fact that the download is a .exe file suggests that it's limited to a single platform.

        • Unfortunately, yes. And that's a pity. As much as I like Amarok on my Ubuntu, sometimes, I just wish MM was available.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Really? I thought both were inferior to digikam. Digikam seems more built around sorting pics while iPhoto/picas seemed to be built around the camera roll theme,where pics were taken together and near the same time. I admit my experience with them isn't vast and it has been a while.

      Google players will obviously be the android based phones. And the record companies have been hoping for a while to break the dominance of iTunes so they can pit distributors against each other and gain the upper hand in tha

      • by N1AK (864906) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:10AM (#29832959) Homepage
        Picasa is one of the few pieces of software that impresses me, and continues to impress me more with each revision. From the way it imports and sorts, through the quality of its automated colour/light fixing to features like face recognition, online gallery integration and tagging it makes organising 'home' photos a pleasent experience rather than a task.

        Maybe better software exists, and it probably isn't as useful to serious photographers but everyone I've shown it to from Grandparents to early teens have become loyal users.
    • by slifox (605302) * on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:19AM (#29831851)
      Music Player Daemon (mpd) has the right idea: separate the playing backend and the user interface. The result is an easily-interfaceable (many, many clients for all platforms, web, etc) and reliable player that rarely (never for me) crashes, and will continue to play even if X dies (which makes repairing X a little more enjoyable).

      My favorite client is QMPDClient, which is cross-platform and has a good user interface for easily switching between the Library view (3-section Artist/Album/Songs), the Directories view (which shows the Music directory as a folder tree), and the Playlist view (for saving or loading playlists). The directory view is the big selling point for me, because I have my music folder well organized by genre, artist, album, but not necessarily well organized as far as ID3 tags go.

      Here's a screenshot: http://dump.bitcheese.net/images/batidij/qmpdclient-win32.png [bitcheese.net]

      It's definitely worth a try...

      MPD: http://mpd.wikia.com/ [wikia.com]
      QMPDClient: http://bitcheese.net/wiki/QMPDClient [bitcheese.net]
      Other MPD Clients: http://mpd.wikia.com/wiki/Clients [wikia.com]
  • Its a Fractal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NETHED (258016) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:03AM (#29831769) Homepage

    This, if true, will only hasten the divide between the two tech darlings Google and Apple.

    Apple has a vested interest in maintaining their defacto monopoly on online music sales though their vertical product pipeline. The Zune is no real threat, as Microsoft does not have the mindshare. Google, with Android, have significant clout, and potentially enough mass to unseat Apple from the head of the online music sales table.

    Apple has done very well with the iPhone, but if history is our guide, they did very well with the original Macintosh. Fast-forward a few years to now, and the story is being repeated. Apple is dominant with their iPhone platform, but Steve Jobs is too obsessed with removing buttons from mice to loosen his grip on the brand. This has help Apple survive, but it ultimatly leads to Apple's cyclical demise.

    Anyway, Google launching a music app will cause Apple to remove Google maps, and Youtube integration from their products. In the end, Google (openness) will win over the closed Apple system. Yes, the Apple devices will be pretty, but the Google stuff will work well enough, be less expensive, and have 95%+ of market share. (Its like we've seen that before somewhere....)

    • >>... will cause Apple to remove Google maps, and Youtube integration from their products.

      You are dreaming. They simply can't - even if they want to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NETHED (258016)
        Why not? [google.com]

        Apple and Steve Jobs historically hate being tied/dependent on anyone else.
        iWork is a beautiful example of Jobs wanting to no longer have to deal with Microsoft. On paper, it makes sense, but in the cold hard truth of reality, Pages.app is no where near the sophistication of Word for Mac. But Jobs wants it to be pretty, and functional enough.
        Either way, Apple hates being tied to vendors, and I see Google being divorced sooner than later.
      • I think they could, given everything else they've done lately -- though I agree it would probably be devastating for the brand.

    • Re:Its a Fractal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GaryPatterson (852699) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:18AM (#29831841)

      Apple has done very well with the iPhone, but if history is our guide, they did very well with the original Macintosh.

      Not any version of history I've seen. The Mac struggled for a while before finding a niche in desktop publishing, where it languished while PC-compatible machines caught up, overtook it and took over the world. The desktop metaphor took over the computing world, but mostly through Windows.

      History is no guide, unless you believe the players have learnt nothing from it.

      Steve Jobs is too obsessed with removing buttons from mice

      Like many commentators, you've missed the point. He is focused on quality, and the vision he has for Apple seems to include removing anything that detracts from that goal. I can't say if he's 'obsessed' as I don't personally know the man.

      Back on topic - competition is great. Now that Apple have pushed back the limits on music purchasing and pushed DRM off the table (aided greatly by Amazon), players like Google can step up and provide a music ecosystem similar to iTunes. Hopefully Google will include new features that draw users towards their product, stimulating Apple to work harder to compete.

      I hope Google produce something amazing.

      • by NETHED (258016)
        My friend, I whole heartedly agree with you. I'm typing on a Mac, with an iPod touch charging near by, and a iPod nano somewhere in my bag. I agree that Apple products are superior to competitors for a number of reasons. I also agree that competition is needed.


        All I wanted to say is that Steve Jobs' singular vision for vertical control of the market is what hurts Apple in the long run. I can't speak with any authority, but I believe that Jobs did NOT want apps to be sold for the iPhone. The way t
        • Re:Its a Fractal (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:51AM (#29832439) Homepage Journal

          I think the real reason Apple is so reluctant to allow apps on the iPhone is fear that one malicious app could destroy the ecosystem. That's why they first decided to not allow apps, at least not until they had the store set up.

          I personally think Apple needs to have two delivery methods to the iPhone: the app store, where Apple can act as your gatekeeper, and through the developer environment, where you compile from source code and assume all responsibility for whatever bugs are in the software. Thus the only way to distribute outside of the app store would be to give away the source code. (The same thing goes for Android: either trust the app store tied to your phone or compile the code yourself)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bkr1_2k (237627)

            Giving away the source code wouldn't necessarily eliminate the issue of a malicious app "destroying the ecosystem", as you put it. Apple is never going to allow widespread "sharing" of apps unless they have the finger on them for this very reason.

            Apple has always maintained a tight control over their systems, there's absolutely no reason to expect that to change now.

            • Of course, you can never fully eliminate the threat, but you can raise the bar high enough to eliminate most threats. By requiring the source code, it makes it harder for a black hat to actually hide malicious code. It might instead encourage more sharing of algorithms and snippets instead of full apps.

              Besides, XCode and the iPhone developer kit only run on Macs, so Apple could spur more Mac sales to those looking to install their own apps.

          • Re:Its a Fractal (Score:4, Informative)

            by Zebedeu (739988) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:48AM (#29833637)

            (The same thing goes for Android: either trust the app store tied to your phone or compile the code yourself)

            No, it doesn't. In Android I can load an .apk (android install package) from anywhere and install it on my device. The only caveat is that I must enable this functionality in some option menu, otherwise I get an error message suggesting me to enable said option if I want to install the application.

            • My apologies, I meant this is how I think the deployment environment should be run: either have the code vetted by a gatekeeper you trust, or compile it yourself with the unstated assumption that if you can run a compiler, you can verify the code yourself and know the risks.

              • by Zebedeu (739988)

                I agree that what you suggest would be better than the current iPhone policy of only allowing market apps, but you'll also probably agree that an even better system is to let the user use his hardware however he sees fit, including letting him install whatever he wishes to, even if it is a binary installation file.

                I mean, we do it everyday in our computers (even in Linux -- otherwise no Skype, Picasa or even decent nvidia drivers) and somehow it seems to work.

                Why can't the users do the same on their mobile

          • by db32 (862117)
            They do have two methods. One is through the app store, and one through the developer program. You can sign up and get a key from Apple for $299 or something that will allow you to develop applications for your own enterprise deployment. Sure, it isn't exactly the best of choices, but the constant claim that it is App Store only is either dishonest or misinformed.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by indiechild (541156)

          I hear what you're saying, but I think Steve Jobs' benevolent dictatorship is what has made Apple so successful. If it wasn't for Jobs being a demanding tyrant, Apple products would be mediocre at best. The guy isn't exactly known for being friendly, but I admire his strive for perfection.

          Jobs has outstanding business sense. If he realises something isn't working, he'll change his approach. I don't think he's particularly tied down to any particular path. That's something a lot of commentators miss. The iPh

          • I think Steve Jobs' benevolent dictatorship is what has made Apple so successful

            Yes, and no. I think this style of leadership has great strengths, but it opens Apple up to huge weaknesses. My iPhone is the only Apple device I have owned, and having had every other platform other than Android, I can say it is the best phone I have had.

            However, it does have many faults. It does seem like it was created by one man. If that one person decided the iPhone should do something (play music, manage calls), it does

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RickRussellTX (755670)

      Apple has a vested interest in maintaining their defacto monopoly on online music sales though their vertical product pipeline.

      Are you certifiably insane? They have no such monopoly. You can buy music all over the place, without DRM. I've been buying music on-line for years, and I think the last iTune I purchased was 2005. Heck, Amazon's downloader (native versions for Win, Mac and I think Linux) will download albums and add them to iTunes for you, utterly transparently, and they have since at least 2007,

      • Re:Its a Fractal (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Itninja (937614) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:42AM (#29832409) Homepage

        They have no such monopoly. You can buy music all over the place, without DRM.

        Well, you can buy music all over the place. But for the vast, vast majority of online music buyers when they think 'I want to buy a song', they think 'iTunes'. Apple (and other independent research firms) put their online music market share at something like 80%. That's certainly not a monopoly in the legal sense, but it is in the practical sense.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by biovoid (785377)

          That's certainly not a monopoly in the legal sense, but it is in the practical sense.

          No it isn't. A monopoly in the practical sense would mean that people have no choice but Apple. In reality, they have plenty of choices. Your point is merely that people aren't aware of the alternatives, but that doesn't make it a monopoly in a legal, or practical sense.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            that doesn't make it a monopoly in a legal, or practical sense.

            A sufficiently large market share may alone be enough for the company to be considered monopoly, at least in some jurisdictions. I'm not sure how it works in U.S., but in EU, for example, if you have a sufficiently large market share, onus is on you to prove that you're not a monopoly, and the harder your share is, the harder it is to prove.

        • by bkr1_2k (237627)

          Well, you can buy music all over the place. But for the vast, vast majority of online music buyers when they think 'I want to buy a song', they think 'iTunes'.
          How is RickRussellTX any different than anyone else? It's not like Amazon is some geek-only known site that is obscure and hard to find. Plus the application mentioned runs on more platforms (does iTunes run on linux yet???) and is arguably less "locked-in" and therefore more widely usable.

    • I disagree with you as far as the online music sales monopoly goes: Apple's real interest isn't in dominating the online music store business as much as it is maintaining dominance in the music player business. They want to sell iPods first, and the online store is merely an accessory. So no, I don't think Apple would retaliate by banning Google apps, especially if it could hurt sales of iPhones and iPods in any way. The music store is a valuable chess piece, but one Apple would sacrifice to protect the mor

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bravecanadian (638315)

        I disagree with you as far as the online music sales monopoly goes: Apple's real interest isn't in dominating the online music store business as much as it is maintaining dominance in the music player business. They want to sell iPods first, and the online store is merely an accessory. So no, I don't think Apple would retaliate by banning Google apps, especially if it could hurt sales of iPhones and iPods in any way. The music store is a valuable chess piece, but one Apple would sacrifice to protect the more important pieces on the board.

        I would put forward that with the music player industry reaching saturation the focus is shifting from the iTunes store being a vehicle for selling iPods to the other way around. That is why they have been focused on adding more types of content to iTunes (tv shows, movies, etc).

        That way they have repeatable sales to people who already have a device.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Maps they could remove and replace with their own version. Youtube they couldn't.

    • amen! lol (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Weezul (52464)

      Except Apple has always been fashion darling, not a tech darling. Indeed, Apple's technology is always fairly far behind, but Jobs' 1-button obsession does create fashion conscious products. Apple will always find users who'll pay more for fewer features when existing features are presented more fashionably.

      I dislike the closed source culture surrounding Apple's computers and strongly dislike the iPhone's restrictions, but Apple's fashion awareness has helped many people. Just look how Apple made increme

    • by bkr1_2k (237627)

      This has help Apple survive, but it ultimatly leads to Apple's cyclical demise.

      What demise is this? I've been hearing about Apple's demise for 20 years now, and they're still going strong. In fact, they're getting stronger.

      Google and Apple will be able to co-exist just fine. Apple may lose a little market share, but I'm sure they'll survive. iTMS isn't their wellspring anyway. It's a helluva bonus, but it's not their primary breadwinner, and as far as I know, isn't expected to be any time soon.

  • by DavidinAla (639952) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:09AM (#29831795)
    The Wall Street Journal's story says that the plan will allow people to buy FROM iTunes and Amazon. According to this version, Google is just providing a link to the music providers when it comes to the purchase. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704597704574487423504899680.html [wsj.com] If you're not a WSJ subscriber, copy the first sentence of the article and Google it. The link from there will allow you to read the whole thing.
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:11AM (#29831813)

    According to TechCrunch, it's a music search [techcrunch.com] with the option to do limited streaming. So you can search for music, preview them, then either use those services to buy or use iTunes/Amazon to buy it.

    • by zenslug (542549)
      From what I understand, Amazon and iTunes are not purchasing options. I could be wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      So, it's more of a rival to Spotify, then? Stream music, offer links to purchase.
  • eh.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by djupedal (584558) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:18AM (#29831839)
    > "According to people familiar with the matter"

    Which in today's terms means 'we made this whole thing up' just to fill a gap in the so-called news...
  • Lala (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:18AM (#29831843) Homepage

    I hope it's not a crappy knock-off, like when they launched Google Video.

    Even the goodwill of their name couldn't save that horrible site.

    No wonder a couple months later they bought YouTube.

    This time maybe they'll buy Lala.com.

    If you want a good browser-based iTunes store, that's it.
     

  • No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:32AM (#29831899) Homepage Journal

    Is Google about to go head to head with iTunes? No, but they are about to go head-to-head with Amazon.

  • by clem (5683) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @12:45AM (#29831947) Homepage

    Google audio (BETA)

    Lyric Search: Carry a laser down the road that I must travel

    Did you mean: Kyrie eleison down the road that I must travel?

  • A story is posted about Google apparently engaging in some healthy (and frankly long needed) competition against Apple/Amazon, and the tags we get are 'donoevil,' 'queuethefanbois,' and 'fuckgoogle.' At least someone came along and put a ! in front of the last one but the tag being there at all is an artifact of seriously unconstructive vitriol. This is a story about Google expanding into new markets, not about Google doing anything wrong. These tags must be here accidentally at best and as flamebait at
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PReDiToR (687141)
      So on top of knowing the contents of your email, the names of people you talk to, your voice print, your credit card details, your bank numbers, your search history and your reading preferences, where you live, your IP address, photos of you, your friends family and pets, and how technologically inclined you are ... Now you want them to know what kind of music you like too!

      Wait, that came out wrong, I was just watching that horse running off down my garden and thinking about a door that I could do to go a
  • I doubt I'd buy music from them any more than I would from the iTunes store... but if they are going to come out with some music and media management software to compete with the iTune software, I'd be very interested. Every one I've tried, ESPECIALLY iTunes, has been crap... so I'm still organizing all my music in standard file directories and text editing playlists in notepad.

    My second thought is... surely Google would be more receptive to indie and non-professional artists?
  • The trouble with iTunes as a front end is that it is designed to be half the ui of an ipod. A lot of non-ipod iTunes users, use it to sort, catalog and play their libraries and it does an excellent job at that. Try and export to a non-Apple media player and you get problems as it stuffs up the filenames.

    The problem with iPods, is that you need iTunes to sync/delete/add stuff.
    So if Google or whomever would come up with an iTunes like front-end with decent performance and could make it equally good at consoli

  • by orbitalia (470425) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:30AM (#29832551) Homepage

    Here in Sweden 1 in 5 of the population has a Spotify account. I think Google would do themselves a service by coughing up a huge sum of money and buying Spotify which already has pretty much all music you would want, android, ipod, apple, pc applications, high quality ogg vorbis streams and a very loyal user base.

    Spotify is the next big thing, the US just hasn't seen it yet, their business model is great, and their software works really well.

    Spotify may not be for sale, but Google has deep pockets and a link up would knock out MS and Apple easily I think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      Spotify doesn't have good business model.

      I had a paid account for a month, then switched back to free as the intrusion of the advertisements was next to nill. I simply don't notice. They hardly ever advertise for products I'd even want anyway; I listen to heavy metal and other alternative music; The amount of times I've had mobile phones (I already have a great phone), pop music (can't stand it) and other useless chod pushed into my ears would be amusing if it didn't cost Spotify every time it happened.

      I'
      • by orbitalia (470425)

        I hear what you are saying and I agree of course, although there are higher quality streams available in the paid service (the free streams sound better than an average MP3 to me though!).

        The plan is that for the free service they will get paid enough via advertising to make money, so the paid or free is included in their model. I have noticed more frequent adverts in the free service lately though, I think they are tryin to make the free service somewhat less attractive.

        Who wants to "own" music these days

      • I'd probably go back to the paid subscription if their "Music you may like" feature worked.

        Tell me about it. I'm not interested in country music (last.fm tells me I've played Carrie Underwood twice, otherwise I can't find anything that could be in that genre)... So, what's in my "Music you may like"?

        Country, bluegrass, progressive country, rockabilly, traditional country and more country. Well done!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bkr1_2k (237627)

        In short, they've made their "free" (ad-supported) service too good.

        Which is exactly why it would be a good fit for Google. The ad-support is where Google makes its money, primarily, so it makes sense. I'm sure if Google would purchase them, they'd be able to fix the poorly directed ad thing very quickly, as I've noticed a reasonably good correlation between the ads presented to me on gmail (when I actually log in via the web rather than a pop reader) and what I'm reading/discussing at the time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by manekineko2 (1052430)

      As someone without access to Spotify, what's the benefit of Spotify versus the all-you-can-eat style music subscriptions like Rhapsody or Napster?

  • Many of the buyers in the primary demographic will hear, "Google Audio," and not realize Google is selling music. -Todd
  • by chabotc (22496) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ctobahc>> on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:37AM (#29833095) Homepage

    Another example of "Sensational headlines sells", before this ./ post even went live more details became available that in fact this is about adding music to the search results and that the songs found can be played through iLike, last.fm, lala, etc.. and offer 'Click to buy' links to iTunes and Amazon.

    So no, Google is not taking on iTunes or Amazon, in fact it will help sell their music.

    That doesn't mean however this isn't a very nifty feature :)

    Screenshots and more info are available at:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/21/google-to-partner-with-ilike-and-lala-for-new-music-service/ [techcrunch.com]
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/21/google-music-service-the-screenshots/ [techcrunch.com]

  • Let's see, we all know about Google's Don't be evil mantra...
    What is it they say?
    Gotta shake hands with the devil to do the lord's work...
    If you dance with the devil you're bound to get burnt, or something like that...
    So now they're going to get in bed with the devil (RIAA)... What are the results of that? Volcanic herpes or the business equivalent?

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