10 Reasons Why Google Needs to Build an iTunes Competitor

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-02-01

10 Reasons Why Google Needs to Build an iTunes Competitor

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.

Google Must Not Ignore This Opportunity

5. A one-stop shop

When users want to download music on an Android-based device, they need to go to Amazon.com's app to do it. When they want to check out some new applications, they need to head to the Android Market. On the iPhone, it's a different experience. Users can simply open iTunes and download songs, movies, TV shows, podcasts and applications from one place. The experience is far more convenient and it doesn't detract from using the device. That stands in stark contrast to Android-based devices. Google must address its software's lack of convenience.

6. The entertainment industry would welcome it

Record labels and film studios don't like how powerful Apple is. If they really want to make money, they're forced to play nice with Apple. Google could change that dynamic. With a viable competitor in the market, Apple's dominance of the entertainment business could slip away, leaving Google to pick up the pieces. Don't discount the entertainment industry. It plays an important role in all this.

7. It's a necessity

Although Google doesn't seem to understand this, the search giant has no choice but to deliver an iTunes competitor. The mobile industry is quickly becoming an Apple-dominated space. All the other vendors are falling in line behind it. If Google wants to retain second place and possibly compete for first against Apple, it must deliver an iTunes competitor. Copying Apple's strategy isn't the worst idea.

8. Google wants to beat Apple

Although both companies have had a relatively uncompetitive history, they're gunning for each other now. Since Google branched out from search and advertising, the company has competed with Apple in the mobile space. And with the announcement of Chrome OS, it's also trying to steal market share away from Apple on the OS front. Now that Android is being deployed on vendors' tablets, Google has its sights set on Apple once again. The competition is heating up. Google needs to capitalize. It can do that with the help of an iTunes competitor.

9. It builds loyalty

As Apple has found, offering iTunes in major releases keeps customers coming back. When a user decides to add music to a particular iTunes account, it's likely he or she will use that account on every Apple device the user buys in the future. And considering all that content is already in one place, the user might be less likely to choose other software to manage music, movies and other content. Google needs to realize that. It must understand that if its own software can deliver a better experience than iTunes, it can lock in customers who have opted against Apple products. And most importantly, as long as they like the iTunes competitor, they will stick with it. Loyalty to unique products is extremely profitable in the tech business. Google can't forget that.

10. Time is running out

The longer Google waits to deliver an iTunes competitor, the harder it will be for the company to catch up to Apple. Time is simply not on Google's side. When users compare the iPhone or the iPad with any comparably equipped Android-based smartphone or tablet, they will undoubtedly see a real convenience gap between the competing devices. Apple's products make consuming content quick and easy. Google's software makes the process a headache. As more users figure that out, it will only hurt Google. Time is running out on delivering an iTunes competitor, Google. Don't forget it.

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