Reports: Google to launch music service and phone

Daniel Ionescu, Macworld
22 October, 2009
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Is Google gunning to become the next Apple? Google is reportedly set to unveil its own music service and is also working with a smartphone manufacturer on an own-brand Android phone.

Two separate reports from TechCrunch and The Street say that the search giant is developing a music service, dubbed as Google Audio, and a smartphone that will not be sold through traditional wireless carriers.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch quotes multiple sources, saying that Google has “spent the last several weeks securing content for the launch of the [music] service from the major music labels.”

Google Audio would be available for U.S. users, but it is unclear whether it will be a download or streaming service. Arrington notes that Google Audio would be “very different to the Google China music download service that they launched in 2008.”

In a separate report, Scott Moritz of The Street, quotes analyst Ashok Kumar, saying that Google is also working to develop its own Google-branded smartphone, which will be sold through retailers and not through wireless carriers by the end of this year.

The Google phone would also “fulfil Google’s pledge to bring a new generation of open-standard mobile Internet devices to consumers.” Kumar adds that the Google phone and a Chrome OS netbook will use Qualcomm chips, the latter running on the Snapdragon platform.

If the rumours of an own-brand Google smartphone are true, it will be interesting to see how the device will perform against other new Android devices, such as the Verizon Droid or the Sprint Hero. Mortiz speculates that HTC would be the most likely manufacturer of the Google phone—as HTC was the first to develop an Android phone, the T-Mobile G1.

Google Audio also makes sense: the service would offer a trustworthy alternative to iTunes, for its smartphones and upcoming Chrome OS notebooks, which would need a way to get audio content delivered to them (next to YouTube for video).

It’s quite likely that the Google Audio music service, if true, would stream music to a users’ computer and will be hosted by Google, keeping with the search giant’s ideal to keep everything in the cloud.

If Google indeed will produce its own smartphone and music service, it would make an interesting turn in the search giant’s aspirations, which will move more into the area of integrated hardware and software offerings, similar to Apple’s own offerings of the iPhone and iTunes Store.

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