Reuters reported that Apple has finished its cloud-based music service and will launch it before Google in news that should come as a shock to no one at this point.
Google has been rumored to be struggling coming to terms with music labels. Some say labels are squeezing Google, while others say Google keeps changing the program.
Reuters, meanwhile, said Apple will allow iTunes customers to store their songs in Apple's servers, likely in the new North Carolina data center, and access them from a Web browser via a Web-connected device such as the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone.
I detailed Apple's cloud computing efforts here, noting that the music service could be a Web-based iTunes or part of an extended MobileMe cloud storage service we should see in the coming months.
"Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before the service is launched, three of the sources said. Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker, they said."
The licensing issue should be sticky for Apple and Google after Amazon.com launched its Cloud Drive music locker service without procuring licensing agreements from music companies.
As Reuters also noted, Google had hoped to launch its music service last year after acquiring Simplify Media to let consumers port their desktop music to an Android device.
Google is allegedly talking to Universal Music Group, Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group, as well as with European steaming music power Spotify, which CNET said
Talk is great, but Google had better get some deal done and quick. Apple has a decade headstart in digital music and Amazon.com has massive content and e-commere cred. Google has a mobile OS backed by a search engine.
See how much the deck is stacked against it? It would be like Apple or Amazon.com trying to do general search, only worse because Google's music reputation is weak.
Don't forget that RJ Pittman, the director of product management at Google who helped Google broker deals with EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group for its Discover Music search service, left Google to lead Apple's e-commerce platform.
That development from last summer, and Google's supposed wishy-washyness over whether it wants to do a cloud music locker or streaming subscription service, makes for a nightmare of problems to overcome.
I still remain skeptical of Google's music plans when Apple has so much e-commerce and music cachet, but it's hard to count out the company completely thanks to its robust Android platform.
If it can license cheap digital downloads -- maybe sell them for 50 cents a song instead of 99 cents and subsidize them with ads -- it might have a nice value prop going on.
Failing that, I don't see why Apple iTunes users would ever switch or why current Android phone owners won't keep using what they are using.
Again, it's tough to say for sure without seeing Google Music, but with all of the snags and past and present management turnover increasingly impeding Google's market position, it's just as tough betting on the search engine.
Tell me why I'm wrong.