Back in 2003, Apple introduced the first viable replacement to buying CDs. With the iTunes Store, music lovers around the world were no longer restricted to buying the music they loved one album at a time. Instead, they could purchase a single song, or a group of songs, instead of an entire album, if they wanted; it gave consumers more control over the media they purchased. And those archaic silicon discs? Thanks to iTunes, online media stores of the like and music streaming services, they're quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Since then, Apple has captured the online media market with iTunes and set the standard for how digital media should be done. As Aaron pointed out in his article about why he carries an iPhone 4S, the ecosystem is near flawless and media transfer between all of your iDevices is seamless. "I buy a song on my computer, and it auto-syncs to my iPhone (and vice-versa). Again, very easy," he said. Recent improvements and additions (like iTunes Match) have only made things even more polished and media transfer that much easier.
But that hasn't stopped competitors from trying. Other music stores like Microsoft's Zune Marketplace, Napster, Rhapsody and others have been around for almost as long, but they've never managed to penetrate quite as well as iTunes has – this could be credited to the immensely popular iPhone, iPod and iPad, clear vehicles for the service.
Seeing as Google has the majority of the smartphone market and their operating system is severely lacking in the multimedia department, it was only a matter of time before they, too, dipped their toe into the multimedia pool. Back in May, Google introduced their cloud streaming service, appropriately dubbed Google Music. It seemed kind of random at the time, but we sort of had an idea of where they were going with it, thanks to some leaks. Just last month, they opened music streaming service to everyone and opened their Music store, which can be found within Android Market.
From the time iTunes launched until recently (when I stopped purchasing music regularly and just started streaming), that has been the place that I've gone to purchase all of my music. I don't know the count exactly, but I've bought quite a bit of tunes from Apple's iTunes Store. So the thought of making a jump to yet another service and scattering my music library even more was enough to make a guy cringe.
However, Google's music store has been there for weeks, staring me in the eye every time I open Android Market. And as some of you may recall (and relate), last week, I spent a lot of extra time in Android Market due to the impeccable $0.10 app promotion they had going on. I finally caved and bought a few songs, just to test the waters and see how well-implemented the service was. There were a few Christmas songs that I always enjoy listening to and they were on sale for $0.25, so I thought, "Why not?"
Payment was painless, as it usually is from Android Market. My only complaint is that when you don't purchase an entire album, you cannot select multiple songs to purchase and instead must buy each song individually. So I bought a couple of songs to start ... and before I knew it, I was the proud new owner of a few different Christmas albums and a bunch of random Christmas songs. Trust me, I can barely contain my enthusiasm.
I made my way to the Music app on my phone and unsurprisingly, the new additions were there waiting for me in the "Recent" tab. Purchased songs aren't automatically downloaded to the phone but they are added to my online library, and if I want to download one for offline listening, I can easily do so straight from the Music app.
Again, I don't buy a lot of music – except for when I go on a music shopping spree like I did the other day, of course. I mainly stream and plan to continue streaming via Spotify until the service totally lets me down (read: if any more of my favorite artists disappear from their service). But I've never been a fan of iTunes, nor have I ever liked purchasing music from there. So I've reluctantly been in search of a replacement for some time now, and I think I've finally found one.
Google Music and Google's respective music store, surprisingly, work together seamlessly and I have yet to run into any road bumps. Since I already have all of my music in the cloud with Google and I no longer have to manually sync anything (unless I want to, of course), I plan on buying all of my music – if what I'm looking for is available – from Android Market moving forward.
Do I expect it to rival iTunes and pull users over from iOS? Hardly. But I really enjoy how everything works together and, for me, it is better suited to meet my wants and needs. I don't want all of my music on my phone. And being able to stream anything I purchase from Google on my phone, tablet or PC without ever having to download anything is exactly what I want, especially because none of those devices have excessive storage space (16GB in both the Nexus and Galaxy Tab, and 128GB in my MacBook Air). It's perfect.
Have any of you purchased music from Android Market? Are any of you frequent Google Music streamers? Do you like how the two work together, or would you prefer using iTunes (or an existing service) over Google's?