Google Music has been in a state of near-completion for months, if you believe the myriad inside sources briefing the tech press. Pending agreement from some major music labels, the service will sit pretty on all future Android devices and is as much a Spotify rival as it is an iTunes-battler.
The Big G’s do-it-all music package is said to offer a store for buying MP3s, a subscription-based streaming service and a cloud locker for backing up and accessing your own music via your PC or, most importantly, your smartphone. But the service seems to have stalled.
All Things D’s Peter Kafka has word from those close to the talks with the big four labels that negotiations have broken down and things are going “backwards”. This could mean Google goes it alone to start with, loading up Android with a package that mirrors Amazon’s Cloud Drive, without going toe-to-toe with iTunes.
Be under no illusions, this would be a huge mistake. An incremental release would show that the Big G had failed to convince music’s biggest players of the validity of its forthcoming service. But more importantly, it will leave Android well behind iOS in terms of music access.
The lack of a native music store, not to mention a music player that still feels cumbersome and dated, is one of Android’s biggest failings. Adding a digital locker, which is already available from Amazon for Android, is hardly going to win over iOS converts or music-mad smartphone fans. Google needs to have something so impressive that it makes everyone sit up and take notice.
Screenshot leaks have suggested that this will be the case. It’s to be hoped that Google will have something to share with the world at its I/O conference at the start of May. Considering that Apple is unlikely to detail its iTunes plans for iOS until September at the earliest, Google has a golden opportunity to get out in front and convince new customers that an Android phone with its service on board is worth shelling out for.
But there’ll be no such excitement if the service is launched incrementally. Android users are already cursed with having to wait for updates, released at a time of their network and manufacturers choosing. To have to keep hanging on while Google Music gets additional features will only create more annoyance for those who want something complete and integrated from the get-go. Here’s hoping Google Music is the complete deal when it does finally get the nod.