Google launches streaming music service ahead of Apple
By Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc launched a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers' conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google's "All Access" service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
Google unveiled a string of improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search, at the conference. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android software, the operating system that now runs three out of every four smartphones sold.
Shares of Google, the world's largest Internet search company, jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
Google's new music service amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products. Continued...