Google Get Its Groove On. Or Does It?

John Battele leads us to speculation that Google is preparing to roll out a music store. I think this will be greeted warmly by those of us who have not bought into Apple’s vision of what our digital music collection should look and act like – and those that did initially then backed off (or maybe not). But does this have legs?

The one troubling piece to this puzzle is the “AOL factor.” Long ago many (guilty as charged) predicted the downfall of AOL because there was so much more depth and breadth of information outside the walls so to speak. Were they right? AOL is still around, but to a large degree the answer is yes. How about their timing? About 5-6 years early!

Getting back to Apple and iTunes and iPods. While I believe there is an “AOL factor” at play here with regard to issues of DRM, player compatibility etc., I don’t get the impression these issues resonate with nearly enough people to make a dent in Apple’s business. Unlike peaking over AOL’s walls and seeing a true information Eden if you will, I don’t think that’s what a majority or more of the people see when they glance past iTunes. What they see in iTunes is something that gives them exactly what they want for a seemingly fair price, a musical Eden. Until this changes – including UI, player & price point – any new entrant, including Google and all its market cap, is going to be in a struggle. So trying to time any falloff in Apple’s dominance in music might just be fool’s errand.

What could change things in an instant? – price deflation and the availability of a player that approaches the aesthetics of the iPod. I don’t know if the former is doable under current music contract economics. As to the latter, I’m amazed the iPod has had such an open field for this long.

On the issue of any mention of Google striking fear in the hearts of everyone, let’s get over the infatuation intimidation here. I’d take Steve and the Apple crew against anyone when it comes to making and marketing to the consumer.

PS – I still prefer a subscription service a la Rhapsody, Napster & Yahoo Music coupled with a “To Go” feature. But this doesn’t seem to appeal to people. I think it’s too much of a change to how they’re used to consuming/owing music. One more thing, does anyone have thoughts on a portable player that works best with services like this? I haven’t found one yet.


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