It’s the season of special events, with every mobile-related release drumming up secret invites more exclusive than fashion week in Milan. The latest is an Android-themed event from Google scheduled for this coming Wednesday, adorned with the phrase “These Go to Eleven,” leaving much to the imagination. Kicking off in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. local time, the media event is expected to debut Google’s Music store, which has been a growing rumor for months, even before the launch of Google Music’s cloud services last May.
The Wall Street Journal hinted at the launch of a Google Music store some time between late October and early November, complete with Google+ integration for a social networking boost. This could mean users can recommend songs in their online library to Google+ friends, who could then listen to the songs directly, and for free. If a song is purchased, it’s expected to cost around 99 cents.
Google Music is going up against a pretty tough market, and an increasingly finicky crowd. Apple’s iTunes has dominated the music scene for nearly a generation, while the new industry darling, Spotify, has indelibly attached itself to Facebook for its own social oomph. The music industry has reached a point of no return, with free streaming and lax downloading capabilities available with nearly every handset through integrated services and downloadable apps alike. Already, Google is facing a potential setback in having to launch without licensing agreements from two major music labels, Sony and Warner.
It’s all about the personalized ecosystem
The promise of a Google Music store is the expansion of Android’s ecosystem, which already includes movies and books for direct purchase and rental through the Android Market. This personalized “media locker” format is quite similar to what Apple’s been building for years, and what Amazon’s quickly building around its retail efforts with the Kindle Fire. With Amazon’s services and reasonable price point for its newest tablet, the Kindle Fire is set to take the market by storm. It’s topped the Samsung Galaxy Tab for developer interest, taking 49 percent of respondent’s interest, just behind the iPad at 53 percent, according to the latest quarterly report from Appcelerator.
But the worry is that these diverging ecosystems around Android’s core platform will only increase fragmentation, presenting more issues for developers in the long run. With Kindle Fire sales expected to soar this holiday season, developers will be forced to consider Amazon’s ecosystem, which has its own set of capabilities. And this time around, Google will be even less able to control the direction Amazon takes with its Android-powered tablet.