Google unveils cloud-based music service

May 10, 2011 By BARBARA ORTUTAY , AP Technology Writer
Hugo Barra, Product Management Director, during a keynote speech at the Google IO Developers Conference in San Francisco Tuesday, May 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Google Inc. unveiled its long-planned music service Tuesday, but it will likely need deals with the recording industry to reach its full potential.

Called "Music Beta by Google," the service lets users store their tunes remotely and access them from any compatible device, including mobile phones, tablets and computers. So far, it does not offer music downloads or song sales and it doesn't let people listen to music they haven't physically uploaded.

The service will be available by invitation only starting on Tuesday, free of charge while it is being tested. Google announced the new service at its yearly conference for software developers in San Francisco. It did not say whether, or how much, it plans to charge eventually.

Google's music service comes just six weeks after Amazon.com Inc. announced a similar offering. The online retailer's service also lets users play songs they have uploaded to the cloud on their computer or on a smartphone that runs Google's Android. Apple Inc. is also believed to be working on a similar service.

A big hurdle has been getting deals with major record labels. Google did not mention any agreements on Tuesday, though the company has been in discussions with record labels over licensing deals.

The Recording Industry Association of America, EMI and Sony Music declined to comment. Warner Music and Universal Music did not immediately return messages for comment.

Google said users will be able to upload up to 20,000 songs to "the cloud" - tech speak for storing data on remote servers and then accessing them through an Internet connection. Users can create playlists manually, or based on a particular song.

Among the services that Music Beta does not offer is "de-duplication," which lets users skip uploading their own copies to the cloud if there is an identical file already available. Multiple users could stream music from a single file, and users with large music collections could save a lot of time waiting for perhaps thousands of songs to upload.

"But that is where Google and Amazon are hesitant," said Julie Samuels, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Google seems to believe that it needs a license...to de-duplicate."

This, she said, is a "perfect example" showing that copyright law is antiquated. Google's music service, as it stands, is "not as innovative as it could be because Google feels its hands are tied," Samuels said.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., also unveiled a movie rental service that's now available on the Android market, its answer to Apple's app store. Movies are available to rent for $1.99, $2.99 or $3.99.

And in a future-is-now moment, the company previewed a service it is calling Android (at) Home, which lets Android applications interact with appliances and electronic gadgets in the home. It allows Android-based devices to control lights, dishwashers, music players and a slew of other devices.

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NANOBRAIN
not rated yet May 10, 2011
Good move google team!
NANOBRAIN!
seniorsallies!
J-n
not rated yet May 10, 2011
Guess i'm really just wondering why people would need music stored on a server outside of their network?

People would still have to download the music or stream the music to whatever device they are using, would it not just be easier to just use your own home computer as the server? Or maybe just keeping all of your songs on a USB drive?

My other concern is over the contensious issue of copying music. Techinically you are uploading a file to Google's server (creating a copy there) Then when you download or stream the music from their servers you are then creating another copy onto whatever device that is. So there you are creating an additional 2 copies of a file that the Recording Industry would make illegal if they had the option.

sherriffwoody
not rated yet May 10, 2011
I understand the benefits of the cloud, but somethings I'd prefer to be able to use and run without requiring a network connection. What if i'm on Holiday where there is no network access or the internet goes down for a couple of days, I'd require those songs on some other storage medium or device, so why bother with the cloud anyway.
Ricochet
not rated yet May 11, 2011
I would think the obvious answer is not to delete your music files from your local computer after uploading them to the cloud...
abhishekbt
not rated yet May 13, 2011
You can say that suppose, I go to my friend's place or a cyber cafe and then want to listen to my own songs and playlists, you could do that with the cloud without having to carry ur iPod around.

But then again, you could argue that carrying an iPod or a flash device gives a much more mobile and instant access to your music.

Then again you could very well say that your iPhone doesn't have enough free space to store your 20 Gig worth of your lifelong music collection. So, it's best to store it on the cloud and then play it directly streaming over the net.

The argument will go on forever.