updated 12:00 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012
Google Music counting on new hardware to revive
Google Music isn't generating the sales Google wanted, contacts uncovered Thursday. Although still in its first quarter, the Android-focused music store's sales were enough below estimates that CNET's music industry insiders had reason to be "concerned." There wasn't an immediate alarm as Google was hoping to "correct certain issues" and market Google Music more heavily, but it was undercutting low expectations.
A turnaround was supposedly hinging on Google's entry into home electronics, according to promises to music labels. It was implied Google would try to chase after Apple beyond just smartphones and tablets. What few leaks exist, including to Electronista, have alluded to a wireless media system using the Android@Home platform that would stream in a way akin to either Apple's AirPlay or Sonos' multi-room audio system.
Google Music has been fraught with trouble from early on. The company hinted at it as early as Google I/O 2010, when a preview of its web-based Android Market page had a Music tab, but it didn't arrive until a year and a half later. Labels were hopeful that Google could create a direct rival to Apple's dominant iTunes Store; an impasse over cloud music rights ended up delaying the service long enough that Apple's iTunes Match arrived in finished form earlier and with more features.
The reasons for the low initial uptake haven't been identified. Factors likely include the current US-only limitations and a splintered platform that prevents some older phones from even seeing the music section of the store. Google may have inadvertently discouraged buyers through the culture fostered by its app business. Few Android users buy apps relative to iOS, and such habits could translate to music as well.