updated 04:20 pm EDT, Thu September 2, 2010
Rumor says Google still in music store talks
A scoop this afternoon has reiterated that Google Music is on track for the end of the year but is also facing difficulty. The search engine's Android head Andy Rubin has been talking to labels with hopes of a launch before the holidays, but none of them have so far agreed to a deal. Reuters nonetheless understood that the studios were willing to keep talking as they saw Google possibly upsetting Apple's hegemony over digital music.
"Finally here's an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform," an unnamed studio executive reportedly said.
The strategy rumored in the past would focus on streaming and would be tailored primarily to Android devices; it may or may not be an unlimited plan but could give users access to their music collections on phones and tablets by streaming instead of downloads. Google bought Simplify Media in the spring with what many believe is the intent to create a "locker" for someone's music collection and grant access over 3G or Wi-Fi.
It might use Google's current support for music previews and store links in its search results to help drive sales and could also use YouTube to its advantage by popping up ads and suggestions to buy from its own stora rather than using sources like Amazon MP3 or iTunes.
In spite of the reputed optimism for an iTunes competitor, the lack of concrete progress has cast doubt on whether Google Music will be ready before 2011. It had to hire an expert negotiator and may lack a group leader that would help coordinate efforts. One of the label officials promoting the rumor warned that, while he was hopeful, Google "doesn't have a track record" in selling music.
Apple is tentatively taking its first steps into a streaming-first world with the new Apple TV's streaming focus, but it's thought to be going without music streaming as it may not have the necessary extra deals. The importance may increase when it completes its North Carolina data center and has the resources to make streaming an option.