Google Music hit more marks than it missed

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| November 17, 2011

There are probably a few people out there who are excited for Google Music now that it is the real deal, and no longer weighed down by that ‘beta’ tag. Betas are an integral part of Google’s way of life, though, and I’m going to admit that I’m actually surprised at how quickly Music lost its beta credentials, especially compared to other products launched by the search giant. And now that Google Music is in the public’s hands, is integrated into the Android Market (for most), and features a music store, the obvious comparisons to other well-planted digital music outlets have begun. Fortunately for Google, they hit more marks than they missed.

To be honest, with the way that Google Music was starting out, I wasn’t all that excited about it. Sure, it was great that I could play my music wherever I was, but I’ve never been in a situation where my music isn’t readily available anyway, so having another digital storage locker to access it was just that – just another means of storing my music, and not much more. 20,000 is a great feature though, especially when Google offers it up for free. I used the Google Music player a few times and it worked pretty well, but I simply prefer playing music locally off my phone (or any other machine, for that matter).

That last part goes a long way towards battery life, truth-be-told. It may not make a huge impact, but obviously streaming music over the Internet is going to drain your battery just a bit faster than it would when just using the integrated music application on your phone. It’s a great idea, though, and I’m a fan of the cloud so of course I’m going to use it in some capacity or another. But what Google showed off yesterday indicated the company wants Google Music to be everything that Apple wanted iTunes and Ping to be, and no one should be surprised that Google got it right.

And why did they get it right? Because they’ve already got their social networking service down to actually help with that sharing aspect that Ping missed so drastically. Google could have more than likely figured out another way to share with friends, utilizing other social networks (including Twitter, which Ping has its clutches on), but obviously Google+ was the obvious choice. And so far, from what I’ve seen, the integration actually works quite well, and people are (relatively) happy with the way that Google has implemented the features. In essence, it would look like Google’s sharing of purchased music through Google Music is a success, at least in the general consumer’s eyes.

Other features include a free song of the day (similar to Amazon’s free app of the day), a plethora of free music to choose from every day anyway, and recommendations of new artists you may enjoy by Google. There are obviously other new features, but those are the ones that stand out. And like I said before, Google has seemingly hit more marks than they missed, and it looks like the Android army now has something to combat the age-old argument, “But . . . iTunes!” with something that isn’t a third-party application.

But that’s the rub. Google Music is new to the game, and iTunes isn’t. Even Amazon’s music store isn’t a new face to the game, with a limited amount of music to choose from. While sharing is great, getting free music is great, and having recommendations (which iTunes and Amazon does, too) is great, people also want music. iTunes and Amazon have the music, while Google Music is still trying to get the music. Yes, they have a good selection now, but it isn’t as vast as what is on offer from iTunes and Amazon. But that’s because Google Music is new, and hopefully that will change soon.

Not launching with more partners and more licenses and more labels; but, let me also say that I think that this may not have been avoidable for the search giant before they wanted to launch the service. I think this is something they are still working on, and that it will get cleared up in no time. Basically, I added it because I felt like I have to, but I’m hoping that in no time at all that little detractor won’t be there at all, and Google Music’s digital store shelves are just as stocked as the competition.

Fingers crossed.

In truth, the only part where Google really missed the mark is not having an international release for the service. I know there are plenty of Android users in markets like Canada and the UK who would love to use Google Music in its non-Beta fashion, so the faster that Google can alleviate that situation, the better. Plus, more users? Always a bonus.