Google is close to unveiling its new music service, which will apparently mix digital downloads with cloud storage.
Google’s head of Android, Andy Rubin, confirmed reports of an upcoming launch at All Things D’s AsiaD conference in Hong Kong. “I think we’re close,” he said. Rubin added that the new music provider won’t be another iTunes; Google’s version “will have a little twist,” he said. “It will have a little Google in it. It won’t just be selling 99-cent tracks.”
Google launched a cloud music service, Music Beta by Google, earlier this year. The invite-only service allows users to upload and stream music—up to 20,000 tracks—on Google-linked phones and devices. The new Google service would connect an MP3 store to the existing cloud storage system, putting it in direct competition with Apple and Amazon’s download stores.
Rubin did not give a time for the launch. Business Insider quotes an unnamed music industry source who says the download service will launch in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Guardian and The New York Times speculate that it could be as early as November.
But rumors of a Google downloading service have been circulating for some time, and it is unclear if Google has done enough to convince major record labels that a deal is worthwhile. Rubin acknowledged that Google’s reputation as a search engine may have contributed to the breakdown of earlier negotiations.
"Google is in the very early phases of adding consumer products to our portfolio," he said at the AsiaD event. "The media industry didn't see us as that. They saw us a search company."