Google has taken the bull by the horns and beaten Apple’s rumored ‘iCloud’ music locker to the market. The search giant has today announced the launch of a new ‘Music Beta’ service which will allow users to store up 20,000 music tracks in an online storage area and download and stream the content at will from any device with network access.
The new service is a direct competitor to the highly anticipated service which Apple is expected to announce at some point in the coming months, although no official confirmation of its existence or release date has been issued. ‘Music Beta’ also competes with Amazon’s Cloud Player service which was recently launched without full agreement from music labels. However, the free service is currently only open through an invitation based system for users based in the USA.
In terms of pricing, the service is currently free while in Beta but Google may choose to implement a charge when the service opens up to the general public. Again, Apple has not announced any pricing for it’s rumored music service although it is expected that the current $99 MobileMe annual charge will be dropped in favor of a lower monthly subscription, although some sources have indicated a $20 per year charge for the new iCloud service, expected to replace MobileMe.
Google has apparently not yet secured agreements with music labels, so is therefore in much the same boat as Amazon. Apple, on the other hand, has reportedly managed to sign several of the major record labels up to their new service and as iTunes is the market leader in online music sales, may launch at a later date, but to a stronger position in the US market than Google and Amazon.