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Google Music: A threat to iTunes?
The search titan launches its own digital music store, opening a new front in its vicious techie turf war with Apple
A Google rep unveils Google Music in Los Angeles on Wednesday: The new "social music" service lets Google+ friends listen to each other's songs once for free.
A Google rep unveils Google Music in Los Angeles on Wednesday: The new "social music" service lets Google+ friends listen to each other's songs once for free.
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
T

he Google-Apple war continues to rage. On Wednesday, Google unveiled its highly anticipated digital music store, which will sell songs — priced from $.69 to $1.29, just like Apple's iTunes — along with apps, movies, and books. Google secured deals with three of the four major labels (Universal, EMI, and Sony — Warner Music Group is a holdout), good for an archive of 13 million tracks. Google Music users can also share music on the Google+ social network, letting friends listen to their songs once for free. Google Music, which launched in beta as a streaming only service earlier this year, also includes a cloud storage locker where users can upload and store up to 20,000 songs for free. Amazon and Apple offer similar storage options, but for an annual fee. Does Google Music seriously challenge iTunes' dominance?

Nope. This is unimpressive: Google Music is an "entirely unoriginal idea," says Adrian Covert at Gizmodo. Music storage lockers, mp3 lending, and a music store that allows users to purchase individual tracks — that's old news. Amazon and iTunes have been selling music this way for years, and there's no compelling reason to switch to Google Music. "Google is late to the digital music party," and Google Music is a "complete letdown" from "one of the only companies in the world with the clout to actually change the system, not just recycle it."
"Google Music is a complete letdown"

Not yet... but maybe one day: "Google Music in its current form is no iTunes killer," and "without improvement, it's unlikely to even maim," says Greg Sandoval at CNET. Without Warner, Google Music is missing big names like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day, and Google's sharing feature is more restrictive than Spotify's. Still, "Apple shouldn't take the Google threat lightly." And whatever happens between the tech giants, the competition can only benefit consumers. "Rock on, Google."
"Google Music hits almost all the high notes"

But the social component is a big plus: Google Music's integration with Google+ could give it a "big boost" in competing with iTunes, says Sharon Gaudin at Computerworld. The new service allows users to share tunes, and even an entire album, with their buddies through Google+. That's something "different" that "gives Google Music a great shot at being successful," says analyst Zeus Kerravala. "iTunes is music. Google Music is social music."
"Going social could be 'game changer' for Google Music"

And the price is right: Google's most "notable improvement" to the digital music experience is that there's no charge for users to upload and store songs they already own, says Thomas Claburn at InformationWeek. Apple charges $25 a year for that privilege, while Amazon charges $20.  Another "added incentive" is that Google is offering exclusive recordings, from artists like the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and Dave Matthews Band, for free.
"Google Music: 7 key facts"

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