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Google made some big announcements at its I/O conference in San Francisco today -- most notably, that it’s now gunning for iTunes.
The tech giant rolled out its Music Beta service, an iTunes-like bit of software that works from the Internet-based cloud rather than your computer’s hard drive. Much like Amazon’s music-streaming service, Google Music allows users to upload their songs to the cloud and then stream them anywhere, on computers or Android-based smartphones and tablets.
That will keep hard drives free while allowing users to set up playlists on any device and have it stream to the cloud, and they still get the option of specifying certain artists, albums, tracks or playlists that will be downloaded to their devices for offline play.
First Amazon, and now Google -- both huge companies are taking shots at Apple’s mobile and music supremacy, with not a lot going on over at the Apple camp. Dollars to donuts, that’s about to change.
We’ve been hearing that Apple is working on a cloud-based music service of its own, building a big server farm to accommodate the storage space and other considerations, but that it was hung up on licensing considerations. With Google clearing that hurdle, I’d wager that Apple can’t be far behind, especially because the company’s media business has been a huge part of its success during the last decade. The popularity of the iPod and the ease of use of iTunes led to the iPhone and then the iPad -- and Apple isn’t looking to hand off that torch to anybody, least of all Google, anytime soon.
So it seems like a fair bet to assume Apple will be announcing, in some capacity, its own streaming digital locker service for music (and other media, perhaps) when its Worldwide Developers Conference rolls around in early June. Apple’s preview graphic on its website says the event will preview the “future of iOS and Mac OS X,” and that will likely concern a lot of how media works with Apple’s powerhouse devices, seeing as a new iPhone and iOS rollout isn’t expected until September.
Google’s new services are a pretty good indicator of the things Apple will be setting as its baseline with its cloud service. Streaming to iOS devices is a given, and the combination online-offline setups seems like a solid choice as well. But Apple will definitely be coming to the party looking for ways to one-up the competition, because that’s really what it is best at doing. And all this competition suggests some very cool services and features coming to the mobile market.