Google Music Beta
Google Music: The Cloud, Perfected
Google Music is, possibly, the best implementation of cloud computing so far, and it could stay that way for a very long time. The basic concept is as simple as it is brilliant: Users upload their music libraries into their Google web site accounts, and download an app for Android phones. Presumably this app will also be available on iOS soon and, eventually, Blackberry OS devices. Computers of all varieties, and most devices with a built-in web browser will also be able to make use of this service, which is, incidentally, free. However, Linux PCs will only be able to listen to music at launch; a Linux version of the client which uploads songs is not yet provided in the current beta.
Once your music is on Google’s web servers and tied to your account, you can listen to it anywhere by streaming it to the computer or mobile device you want to play it on. If you want to listen to it somewhere you won’t have internet access or mobile service? No problem. Just download it to your device, again through Google Music, free, and you’re all set. Additional features are provided such as Instant Mix, wherein Google Music’s internal algorithms predict which songs are similar to one another and would sound good played together, and a playlist is created based on that. This can either be entirely random or chosen from a “seed” song which the rest are selected by.
The implications this service could have on the music industry are far reaching, to say the least. Unless Google’s DRM service is as robust as that of iTunes, perhaps even more so to be safe, music piracy will see a massive upswing thanks to such a convenient service. On the other hand, going by the progress Google has made in removing copyrighted content from its other community site, YouTube, it is possible they may succeed in making this a non-issue. iTunes will not be affected in all likelihood thanks to the purchase of Ping, a similar cloud music solution. All it would require to reclaim their place on top is an implementation of Ping in the iTunes user interface. Rhapsody is likely to see trouble from Google Music, having a similar promise with the gate of a monthly subscription as opposed to Google’s approach. Zune is a non-starter in Music, and as such will not see much change.