Google held its IO conference recently. They had many new announcements, but the one that most of its consumers will likely notice is the expansion of their Google Play Music service.
Google developed their Google Play as a way to consolidate their movie, book, music and app stores together. Now android users had one place to go for all their media. You could argue this was a way to make an android “itunes” brand.
Up until recently Google Music worked as a music storage locker. You could buy music from Google, just like any traditional music store – iTunes or Amazon. However, Google focused on their web services strength as a differentiator. They allowed users to store 20,000 songs for free on their servers. And not just music purchased at Google, but any MP3s on your computer could be uploaded to Google.
Users could access this music from almost any web browser on almost any device. This comes with a caveat in that the experience on iOS devices was sub par, and might not work on Windows Phones at all. But computer browsers worked perfectly. Also, Google released a dedicated music app for their Android devices which allowed users to stream, but also save files to their phones if they were going to be away from a data connection for a while.
At this year’s IO Google announced a new feature to Google Music, called “All Access”. As the name implies, this is an expansion to allow users a more traditional on-demand streaming service, like those offered by Spotify or Rdio. Now users can search for songs that they don’t have an MP3 copy of, and stream it. Instead of buying the song for .99c, you pay a monthly fee and can listen to an unlimited amount of music.
As I alluded to above, other competing services already exist which provide this same function. How does Google’s offering compare? I will compare to Spotify simply because it is the best-known and most widely used competitor – arguably largely due to its tie in with Facebook.