Thursday, May 12, 2011

Google Marries Music and the Cloud

First, the crib.  For users in India, this Google Music India from Labs link is still up and is reasonably good for the range of Indian popular music available.  However, when you try to get to the dot com domain instead of dot co dot in, you get a message saying "We're sorry. Music Beta is currently only available in the United States."  Fair enough, except that today saw the launch of the beta of what I feel might be a stronger proposition than Microsoft pocketing Skype.

For those in the know, of course, it is a beta, and will be buggy.  But in the face of it all, RealNetworks and Apple have both been beaten in the launch game of cloud based music storage and streaming.  My inputs on this are all strictly and officially second hand till Google figures out the technicalities and legalities of rolling this out to other countries.  I am NOT going to detail how to beat the country restriction, but it is something even dummies like me can do, even from inside a secure network.

Requirements for turning the cloud into your own DVD shelf, Android 2.2 and an OpenGL2.0 ready device.  The app allows you to upload your music collection (not quite clear how they plan to differentiate between legit and cheat rips, but they claim they will) to the cloud and stream it back from up to EIGHT different devices!!!  My richest cousin doesn't have eight Android devices, but I am guessing a lot of people out there do.

It will be unfair to pronounce judgement this early, and I am certain the guys out there are working on fixes, but it does raise a few questions in my mind.  If this is free, and the music manager does have a spartan look, will we be seeing ads?  Will those ads be snooping on my browsing history and my personal communications?  Are my musical preferences going to land me in trouble with the government?  Kidding, but these are valid concerns.  The other concern is of course legality.  My limited understanding tells me that a large percentage of digital music listened to locally (off the cloud) by users is not legit, but these users seem to have put the lawsuits and the harassment behind them and continued to listen to this year's releases that their friends lent them last year.  It is obvious that more than the app itself (and I have seen some news of music and video/movies on the radar over at Google) this move is a precursor to the stuff we expect to see in the chromebooks of the future.  However, a little greater differentiation from iTunes would have been nice.  Many of the features on the music manager are heavily influenced by existing and popular iTunes options.

All in all, a landmark launch, even if buggy beta, and one that holds great promise for the non-computer of tomorrow.

Do share your thoughts in the comments.

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