Peter Kafka

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Google Music Store — With a “Twist” — Coming Soon, Says Android Boss

Google worked for a long time to get a music store/service up and running with the blessing of the big music labels. Last spring, all of that broke down, so Google launched a cloud-based music locker on its own.

But Google is finally close to launching a music service with help from the labels, Android boss Andy Rubin said today, confirming earlier reports for the first time. When? “I think we’re close,” Rubin said onstage at the AsiaD conference in Hong Kong.

Both Amazon and Apple already sell music and offer cloud lockers, but Rubin promised that Google’s version “will have a little twist –┬áit will have a little Google in it. It won’t just be selling 99-cent tracks.”

Still, Google needs all of the big labels on board, and the most recent reports said only EMI Music was close to a final deal. So, “close” could be a relative term.

Meanwhile, about those earlier label deals. Why did they fall apart, anyway?

Rather than accuse the labels of taking an unreasonable stance, as Google executives have previously done, Rubin takes a new tack — he says media companies in general haven’t been able to figure out what Google is up to. Just like Steve Jobs’s company used to be called “Apple Computer” and evolved into “Apple,” he says, Google is morphing, as well.

“Google is in the very, very early phases of adding consumer products to our portfolio,” he said. “The media industry didn’t see us as that. They saw us a search company.”

You can connect some dots here and make an educated guess: Rubin is probably referencing media companies’ insistence that Google help them fight piracy by making some sites harder to find. And the search giant has complied, to some degree. But there’s likely more to the story than that.


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