Among the plethora of announcements at Google’s annual I/O developer event was one that should have music fans excited. The company is launching Google Play Music All Access, a streaming music service, beating rival Apple, which is said to be planning a similar product, to market.
However, the service will be available only in the US to start, with Google South Africa spokesman Julie Taylor saying the local office has “nothing to announce” at this stage. She adds, however, that Google wants to bring All Access to as many countries as it can.
All Access went live in the US on Wednesday and allows users to stream millions of tracks from Google Play Music’s catalogue to their desktop or mobile device. Users can also upload up to 20 000 of their own tracks to Google and stream these from any device. The service, which offers a 30-day free trial to new users, costs $9,99/month (or $7,99/month for those who sign up to the trial before end-June).
Much like Spotify, All Access can be used to create radio stations from any track or artist, which produces playlists of similar music based on user preferences. There are also recommendations from Google’s “expert music team” and the option to browse the catalogue by genre.
With All Access, Google has beaten Apple to market. Apple, which was the trailblazer in the digital music market with its iTunes Store, has long been expected to enter the streaming market. Some suggest Apple is holding out as long as possible before offering a product in order to extract maximum revenue from its digital music sales business.
A wide range of streaming services have been launched in South Africa in the past year. German company Simfy partnered with mobile content provider eXactmobile to bring the service to South African consumers in August 2012.
With each service priced at between R30 and R80/month, Nokia made an aggressive play in April when it announced its Nokia Music+ service would be available to South African users of its Lumia range of handsets for R25/month.
Nokia isn’t the only hardware company to get in on the streaming action. In March, Samsung announced it was launching a service called Kleek in partnership with Universal Music Group. However, the limited scope of the content on offer and the limited range of devices supported could restrict its popularity.
Microsoft, meanwhile, had been expected to launch Xbox Music in South Africa by the end of last year but has still not launched the service. MD Mteto Nyati says the company has had to overcome a number of technical challenges and that Xbox Music is still on its way. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
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