For quite some time we have all known that iTunes' position at the top of digital music's distribution tree was one that could not last forever. Now, whilst Apple still retain their dominance of the market, their position as leader is about to come under serious threat, and it doesn't take Stephen Hawking to figure out where that threat is coming from. In this latest round of the battle of the titans, Google looks like launching their own search based music download service.
The signs have been there for all to see for some time, the link up with iLike and Pandora, the plans to offer professional content on YouTube, an online book store and Google TV. All this points in one direction: Google are moving into providing entertainment content, and in a big way.
The absence of public acknowledgement of the project might give the more cautious reason for taking all this with a pinch of salt and there certainly seems to be no real substance to the rumours flying round the net that the Mountain View company are in talks with record labels. However, their relationship with Vevo puts them in a commanding position from the outset and even if it didn't, Google have long seen music distribution as a competitive weak spot in their generally steely hide.
It is believed that Google Music (as it may be imaginatively called) will be available first as a download web store but with an eye to developing a cloud based service for subscribers. This would imply that before long we will be able to stream music directly from the internet onto our android devices and will no longer have to clog up our SD cards with our music collections, or a tiny fraction of our music collections, if you are anything like me.
It is a sad truth that, to date, the music experience on Android does not match that of the iPhone. A truth that does not look like enduring for much longer. Which will be one less thing for those smug fanboys to brag about, making all our lives a little more harmonic.
As for when this paradigm shift is likely to happen, well, the most accurate estimation this reporter could find was "sometime in the Fall". Let's hope its this Fall.