Not content with crashing down hard on the satnav industry yesterday, today Google put the willies up the music industry too with the launch of a Google music search feature. Just before you go diving off to try it, it's only available in the US at the moment, but so far it's not that extensive anyway. Currently, you can enter a song, a band, a lyric or anything that pertains to music and the engine will come up with a section of music results at the top as it might do with images or videos. The links include streamed previews, music discovery services and, indirectly, mp3 sales too. So, in its current form and even looking to the future, just whose toes are getting trodden and which sites and services will manage to come out okay?
As one of the music discovery services that Google promotes in the music links, imeem should receive a boost when the service goes global. It's already a popular site but being thrust to the top of the rankings will certainly do it the power of good. There's always new users waiting to be signed up. Even this development from Google is a long way off the kind of niche that imeem occupies, so the company should be pretty pleased about it all.
Verdict - Winner
Plenty of music purchases start with an internet search to find out what an artist, album or song is called and if there's a link to buy the track straight away, this being the case it could take some business away fro Apple. At the moment, the links to buy are only there on certain tracks and only once the user has already clicked through to one of Google's partner sites. The other issue is that the Google offering could develop into a streaming service and prove a threat to iTunes on that front. Whatever it means, it's not good news for Apple but you'd think that Jobs Inc has something clever up their sleeves what with the wind of change in the music industry anyway. Apple ditched DRM when it realised it had to and doubtless the company will look to streaming or another change in model soon anyway.
Verdict - Short term loser
As one of Google's partners for this venture it's generally quids in for Pandora. A link straight to the top of the rankings without having to battle the SEO gods saves a lot of time, stress and effort and should win the service even more users than it already has. Opening out beyond the US would probably do them more favours though.
Verdict - Winner
The vintage social network already does surprisingly well out of Google's ventures with the odd music video popping up far higher in search results than the site's waning popularity would suggest. Hard to tell whether the service is on an endless slope to destruction or if it'll reach an eventual plateau of loyal users, but the music feature from Google will certainly provide a brief stay of execution. In the long run though, it could just keep actual traffic away from the MySpace site with just its content being streamed to Google's pages. No ad impressions for them there.
Verdict - Short term winner
On the other hand, MySpace's recent acquisition of the ex-Facebook app iLike could prove to help a whole lot more. Firstly, the site has a far more modern offering than its buyer, and more importantly, it's one of the click throughs for Google where you can buy the track you've just searched for. Nice business unless, of course, Google decides to sell the tracks itself.
Verdict - Winner
No real problems at present. Yes, there's a degree of streaming you can do with the Google music feature but it doesn't compare to the entire Spotify platform and its tidal wave of good will support. If Google really wanted to, there's no doubt the engineers could build themselves an equally impressive model with even further reach. Daniel Ek won't be losing any sleep over this one but it might sit at the back of the Spotify supremos mind
Verdict - Long term niggle
The damage was done here a long time ago. As Pocket-lint's resident expert on digital music put only too succinctly, "went into Fopp the other day. Made a mental note to check out a few things on Spotify. Bought nothing". Most high street retailers will be too busy looking across at the empty Zavi stores to have noticed what Google has just announced.
Verdict - Already lost
Wikipedia has done a fantastic job of romping its way up the searching rankings for absolutely everything, including music. Having Google plonk its music feature at the top of the list along with links to the companies partners with all the information you could possibly want on a band or a song is something of a party pooper. Naturally, this isn't Wikipedia's sole business but what happens when Google has a feature of its own for just about everything?
Verdict - Loser
Like Wikipedia, Amazon has enjoyed top billing on the Google rankings and having its mp3 downloads service trumped by something of Google's very own is both frustrating and simply insurmountable. As it stands, it's an irritant, but if Google takes the time to put a Buy Now button next to their results that go straight to Google check, then there's a problem. Fortunately, mp3 sales aren't the core of Amazon's business, the company will still do fine with them all the same through deferred sales within their own network and as much consumer trust as any e-tailer can have.
Verdict - Loser
Bit of a strange one seeing as it belongs to Google anyway but the music results will not only cannibalise some of YouTube's traffic but also divert it elsewhere too. Listening to tracks on the world's favourite video service is big business for the Tube and if you can do that straight from search, then they could lose out quite a lot. Again, it's not the only thing on YouTube but what with the public tiring somewhat of sneezing pandas, it's probably a bigger issue than you'd think.
Verdict - Loser
Like Pandora, it's the excellent nature of Last.fm's music recommendation system that sets it above all the rest and, at present, that's not something that Google has on the roadmap. Naturally, if the search giant wanted to, it could put the resources into making something similar. What it does have to its advantage is the enormous database on the subject but it doesn't seem like a logical step for the company. What is a slight concern for Last.fm is that Pandora has been chosen as a partner, but, seeing as that service only works in the US, it's not such a problem at the moment.
Verdict - No bother