updated 03:00 pm EST, Fri November 11, 2011
Google hints Android music store on November 16
Google gave a strong sign that its long-delayed music store is coming with an invitation sent to the media for a November 16 event. Titled just "These Go To Eleven," the gathering has few clues others than that it will be Android-focused, with those too far to attend in person encouraged to check a live stream at youtube.com/android. The event has an unusual afternoon start at 5PM Eastern and had its invites sent out by "Nigel Tufnel," a reference to Spinal Tap's fictional lead rocker.
The event coincides with rumors of an imminent store launch as well as evidence from Google itself, which has been leaving code references to the store. Multiple tips have had the store using Google+ as a key feature, where listeners could share songs over the fledgling social network and possibly get at least one listen for free. Google might also give away many more free songs than Amazon or Apple.
The search developer is known to have been aiming for a music store since May 2010, when live demos at Google I/O included off-hand references to a music section of Android Market. In spite of Google's size, however, it has routinely fought with labels that want it to charge for its cloud music storage, much like Apple does for iTunes Match. Talk of an impasse has mounted to the point where it might be willing to forgo most, if not all, major labels to get the store in place.
A music store would help complete an ecosystem that Google has been establishing over the course of many months, starting with books and moving on more recently to videos. Google has conspicuously been attempting to recreate an iTunes-style environment where Android users have consistent access to media stores regardless of their device and OS version.
Although popular services like Amazon MP3 and Netflix run on Android, they usually are either unavailable in some major countries or are off-limits to certain devices and OS versions. Issues with splintered copy protection and wildly varying hardware features have prevented some services from running consistently across the platform.
Regardless of store plans, the event also mark the end of the beta phase for the Google Music cloud service. Google has warned that it might start charging for access for the previously free beta.