News / Economy

Google Launches Streaming Music Service Ahead of Apple

Google Play
Google Play
Reuters
Google Inc  launched a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
 
With its new service, announced at its annual developers' conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
 
Google's “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
 
Google unveiled a string of improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search, at the conference. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android software, the operating system that now runs three out of every four smartphones sold.
 
Shares of Google, the world's largest Internet search company, jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
 
Google's new music service amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
 
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
 
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
 
With a music service, Google further “locks” consumers into its sphere of products and services, said Chris Silva, an analyst with Altimeter Group.
 
“They're trying to sell an ecosystem,” he said. “The more things I'm doing, the more things that tie me to Google services.”
 
At $9.99 a month, Google's service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
 
The music service features millions of tracks from Universal Music, Sony Entertainment Group and Warner Music Group, as well as from thousands of independent labels, according to a Google spokeswoman.
 
Some analysts said the new service allowed Google to catch-up to offerings from the likes of Spotify, but did not offer anything unique. Forrester analyst James McQuivey said combining the service with video or game content might have made it stand out.
 
“You don't dismiss Apple, you don't dismiss anyone. But that is not the point,” said Rich Tullo, an analyst at Albert Fried & Co. “Pandora is the market share leader in the space and their platform is so disruptive - it's very hard to disrupt them. When you have 70 million people use it - they are the disruptors.”
 
CEO appearance
 
A procession of Google executives described and showed off a litany of new features and software updates at the annual “I/O” developers' conference, from picture touch-ups on Google+ and re-designed Maps that spot when a user is walking or driving, to Star Trek-like voice-activated search that understands a users' sentences and figures out what he or she is looking for.
 
“We haven't seen this rate of change in computing for a long time - probably not since the birth of personal computing,” said CEO Larry Page, who began his address reflecting upon a significant moment in his life, when his father got him into a robotic science fair.
 
“We're really only at 1 percent of what's possible,” said Page, whose on-stage appearance came a day after he acknowledged suffering from a rare nerve problem affecting his vocal cords. The problem, which affects his breathing and makes it difficult for him to speak at length, sidelined Page from public speaking engagements last summer, though Page spoke for 45 minutes on stage on Wednesday.
 
Decrying a “negativity” in the technology industry which he said impedes progress, Page singled out competitors Microsoft Corp and Oracle Corp, criticizing the companies for not being sufficiently collaborative with Google and other companies. Google was sued by Oracle last year, and companies affiliated with Microsoft have complained about Google's practices to European antitrust regulators.
 
“Most important things are not zero sum,” Page said.

Lack of Glass
 
The conference comes as Google's Android software has become the most popular operating system in both smartphones and tablet PCs. Executives said Wednesday that some 900 million smartphones and tablets running Google Android software had been activated since the platform's inception in 2010
 
Google's popular mapping service, a mainstay of Android devices, features tighter integration with reviews off Zagat, the popular dining-reviews brand that Google bought last year. It also sports more pictures from inside important buildings, sourced from user-uploaded photos. It can now even display the earth realistically as viewed from outer space, something Page said he personally requested.
 
Shares in Yelp Inc, which like Zagat is built off users' personal reviews, slid 3.8 percent to $29.80 in the afternoon.
 
Conspicuously absent from the more than three-hour opening keynote session was any mention of Google Glass, the wearable computing device that the company began distributing to a limited set of early users and developers last month.
 
The futuristic-looking device has elicited admiration from many technology-lovers, but some have questioned whether the stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on eyeglass frames will appeal to mainstream consumers.
 
While many enthusiastic attendees and Google staffers strolled about the conference center sporting the Glass devices, executives spent little time discussing it on stage.
 
Google missed an opportunity to “show that they think they're onto something big,” said Forrester's McQuivey.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8845
JPY
USD
117.71
GBP
USD
0.6643
CAD
USD
1.2669
INR
USD
62.019

Rates may not be current.