10 Reasons Why Google Needs to Build an iTunes Competitor

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-02-01 Print this article Print

News Analysis: As Google's Android platform prepares for its move to tablet computers, a key component is missing: an effective competitor to Apple's iTunes. Here is why a Web-based iTunes competitor from Google might be the best way for the search giant to compete with Apple and its multitouch mobile juggernauts.

In a recent interview, Acer President Scott Lin said Acer won't be offering an iPad competitor. He said Acer opted not to introduce a tablet PC because of the competitive barrier presented by Apple's Tunes and the multitouch features on the iPad and iPhone.

Furthermore, Lin said it's iTunes that has made Apple products so successful in the past and he fully expects that trend to continue when the iPad is released later in 2010. He makes a good point. Historically, iTunes has been a key reason for Apple's success. And thanks to it being bundled with the iPad, it will likely add value to Apple's tablet computer.

But Apple isn't alone in the touch business. Through the Android platform, Google is also offering a compelling touch experience on mobile phones. Android is now following the iPhone OS to the slate scene. At CES in January, the platform was shown running on several tablet PCs, including a Freescale tablet, an Archos slate and even a Dell machine. Google might just be Apple's most capable competitor.

But no matter how viable the Android OS might be on a tablet or smartphone, the operating system lacks a one-stop shop for all things entertainment. And although it currently allows users to download music from Amazon.com's MP3 store, that offering doesn't cut it. If Google wants Android to be a real competitor to Apple's mobile operating system, it needs to develop an iTunes competitor.

Here's why:

1. It's big business

Part of the reason that Apple includes iTunes in any product it offers is its revenue potential. For years, iTunes has generated billions of dollars in revenue for Apple. Google can capture some of the market by following suit. The more revenue a company generates, the more it can use to invest in new and exciting products. Google is doing well, but it's leaving money on the table by not offering an iTunes competitor.

2. Android has nothing of the sort

The Android platform might be a viable alternative to the iPhone OS, but it's still lacking that killer iTunes-like store to make it a true competitor to Apple's software. Not having entertainment just a few finger taps away is not ideal. For Google to truly compete with Apple, it needs to build a platform that bests iTunes.

3. It's what users want

The consumer has come to expect an iTunes-like store for smartphones. Soon enough, they will expect the same for tablets. Like products from Microsoft and Research In Motion, Google's Android platform lacks that requirement. Android might run on more devices, but until it can deliver an equal or superior experience to what Apple offers, the Android will always trail behind. Users want an iTunes competitor on Android. What is Google waiting for?

4. Amazon.com doesn't cut it

Amazon.com's MP3 store has a huge library of music at affordable prices. All in all, it's a fine store. But it's not Google's store. iTunes is about availability and convenience. An iTunes competitor would not only give Android a leg up (Google can bundle the app just as Apple bundles iTunes on the iPhone), but it can also give users access to any content on any product they intend to use. Google's store would arguably be more ubiquitous and convenient than iTunes. That could only help Google compete.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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