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HP might beat Google, Apple to cloud music service for its webOS

by Phil Hornshaw

Every tech company in the business is working on a tablet, but the devices generally circle around those offered by other companies like Apple (AAPL) and function using Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. So, in a word, they’re all kind of similar. Android tablets compete with each other but not so much in the realm of software because they’re all running Android, leaving the competition to be between iPads and their iOS system and Google’s operating system, with variations of tablets available on the Google side.

That’s not the case with HP’s (HPQ) TouchPad, a tab the company is working on that sports a new kind of operating system. It’s called webOS, and it’s proprietary to HP. Like Amazon (AMZN), which aims to make itself a major mobile player within the framework of Android, HP’s webOS could make the mobile OS fight a three-way competition.

According to some tech blogs, some customers signing-up for notifications about the TouchPad recently received a Power Point presentation about the device, which included a couple of interesting slides with information about the HP Music Store and the HP Movie Store. Those are previously unreleased subsections of whatever media- and app-buying framework HP intends to roll out with the TouchPad, and it looks a lot like what Apple has in iTunes and Google is planning.

The one big thing to note about the HP Music Store in particular, though, is that the slide suggests HP will be providing users with a cloud-based digital locker for music. That’s basically some storage space on the Internet to which users can upload their music files, and it allows them to stream back those files from anywhere they have an Internet connection. It’s just the same as Amazon’s cloud music player, which was rolled out a couple of weeks ago -- users can listen to their music just about anywhere, on multiple devices, without it taking up hard drive space.

What’s interesting about HP getting cloud-based music storage, which it hasn’t yet confirmed, is that neither Google nor Apple has that feature available to users yet, though they seem to be in the process of ironing those services out. If HP really has a cloud-based music service, it could potentially beat Google and Apple to the punch when it launches the TouchPad sometime in mid-summer.

We’ve already seen Amazon come into the mobile sphere throwing haymakers in the direction of Google (and to a lesser extent, Apple). The Amazon Appstore for Android platforms piggybacks on Amazon’s massive online retailer mojo, and started its existence with an exclusive on the uber-popular newest version of the game Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio. Right after it made a splash in the app market, Amazon dropped its Cloud Player onto the web, adding compatibility for Android users (and not iOS users).

Amazon is obviously out for blood and takes being a contender in Android seriously. HP is hoping to set up the framework to do the same on a broader level as it positions webOS against Android and iOS. HP’s digital locker service could be a powerful weapon in that upcoming battle, especially if the company can get it out ahead of Apple’s and Google’s similar offerings.

HP’s digital music locker possibilities are a big step in the right direction with rolling out a competitive tablet operating system. Whether HP can be a real contender against Android and iOS remains to be seen, but if HP has more tricks up its sleeve like this, it’s going to be an interesting summer.