Did Google Just One-Up Amazon for Domination of Free Online Music?

05/10/2011 3:20 PM |


It’s been a little over a month since Amazon announced the launch of their cloud-based music player, software that allows anyone to store and stream their music from the online “cloud.” That means it’s been a little over a month that Google’s been sitting in a corner, quietly fuming and plotting its own cloud-player, one that the New York Times reports today is bigger and more badass than Amazon’s. The unexpected announcement of the Google Music Beta for Androids comes only two days after Amazon released the news that their cloud-player now works on iPhones, iPads and Touches—at which point Google was probably like, “Ugh, fuuuuuck.

The reason it’s taken Google so long is that they’ve been trying to negotiate with music labels, according to the New York Times. But Amazon doesn’t work with the labels, so it looks like Google just gave in.

“This whole upload thing just seems like a significant barrier to wide consumer adoption, because even with broadband it just takes a long time” to upload, said David Pakman, who invests in digital media start-ups for the venture capital firm Venrock, and helped found a similar music service, Myplay, in 1999.

But Amazon forced Google’s hand, he said. “If you’re faced with another six months of brutal negotiations and your competitor just launched this, you just get in the market and get a lot of users.”

Now, Google’s Music Beta will store up to 20,000 songs for free, while Amazon’s only does 1,000. Apple’s apparently got something in the works too, after building a data center that could store users’ music in North Carolina. But despite the increasing pace in the technological race for domination of our mode of music “consumption,” what has yet to be seen is how many people will start using either Amazon or Google’s new toys. The cloud-players don’t necessarily affect the population of esoteric vinyl hold-outs out there, nor the grunge-loving cassette-clingers. And can the cloud-players ever really replace the value of lovingly sharpie-scrawled song titles on a mix CD?

To be determined. In the meantime, Google just said “Nah-nah nah-nah boo boo,” to Amazon, before sticking out its tongue and running away.