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“Open” is the key to success of Google Music

Posted in The cloud and the open source, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on August 18, 2010

Google Music was announced in May 2010 and it is expected to be up and running by the end of this year. As always, Google finds it looking into the eye of Apple Inc. with its iPods and iTunes dominating digital music space in US, accounting for 28% of all music purchased by US consumers in Q1,2010. Currently, Apple holds more consumer credit cards than any other company besides Amazon. Google Checkout in comparison is not put to pace.

In order to stand up to the Apple iTunes, iPhone and iPod, Google will need to look at the drawbacks of Apple as a music platform and must position itself as an alternative to the Apple Music platform. A few pointers to Google to get a march ahead of Apple in the digital music space:

1.Leverage Cloud Computing
Making an iTunes clone is one thing, making an iTunes alternative is completely another. Google with its expertise in cloud computing has the best opportunity to be the iTunes alternative. This is especially true in face of the trend where Smartphones are becoming primary storage devices. Even then, music storage on phones is not a realistic and sustainable alternative. Google must focus on cloud storage, which users will sync/access to music files.

2. Streaming Media
Streaming media synched to the cloud is the future of music.Music companies like Rdio, Spotify and Rhapsody already offer subscription based services for music on Mobile. Google’s opportunity would be to create a hybrid service that offers synching, streaming and purchase of music. That is where Google Checkout checks in.

3.Cross Platform Integration

While Apple specializes in selling all inclusive content packages, Google’s USP of being “Open” can help them make a music platform which is cross platforms. The acquisition of Simplify Media by Google in May is a good measure in this direction. Google already has plans to make their Google music available across a range of devices through the Android platform. The next frontier is to make Google Music available on all platforms whether Google or not.

4.Leverage vendors and music companies currently not on iTunes platform

Getting a sign-on on the Google platform with music labels and companies will allow Google to access popular content that is still not available in the iTunes store (eg. Beatles). Many such blank spaces exist where iTunes has not been able to establish themselves. Music will be a key factor in smartphone sales success, but with 75 to 85% of the catalogues still untouched by iTunes, there’s plenty of room for Google to step in.

Thus the positioning of Google Music is thus not just an iTunes+, that is open across platform hosts more labels and has new cloud based services and streaming that leverages Google’s “Open Technology”

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