Google Android to Duel Apple iTunes in Music

Google's music service plans are crystallizing in talks with music labels on plans for a download store and a digital song locker to challenge Apple iTunes in the digital music market.

Google signaled its intent to go after Apple's iTunes dynasty in May when it quietly revealed it had acquired Simplify Media to add for Android smartphones.

Simplify Media provides an efficient way for users to take music they own on their desktop that isn't copy-protected and stream it to an Android phone. Since that curious announcement at Google I/O, the talk of Google's music plans has subsided.

Now it seems Google's music plans are crystallizing in talks with music labels on plans for a download store and a digital song locker that would allow its mobile users to grab and play songs from the cloud, according to Reuters.

On Google's part, the talks are being shepherded by Google Android creator and vice president of engineering Andy Rubin. The idea is to have a Google Android music service to offer users in time for this Christmas.

Record label executives are reportedly excited about the potential for this offering, which was previewed by The Wall Street Journal in June. The Journal then also reported Google would launch an online music subscription service in early 2011.

Google didn't confirm the news, but didn't deny it either, telling eWEEK: "We don't have anything to announce at this time," a sure sign that plans are in motion.

The move would open yet another battlefield between Google and Apple, once fast friends that are increasingly competing for users' eyeballs and dollars in every segment of the Web.

While the two companies primarily compete today in the smartphone market, with the Android OS pumped out in 200,000 devices daily as an alternative to Apple's iPhone, the companies will also soon compete in digital television.

Apple just revamped its Apple TV product, lowering the price for the box that serves digital TV for subscribers. Google is launching Google TV this fall, affirmed Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the IFA show in Berlin.

The current signs point to Google aiming to also compete with Apple in music, which appears as difficult as Microsoft's Bing trying to compete with Google in search.