When I recently migrated from the Android operating system to iOS, there were two services that I could not fathom surviving without: Google Talk and Google Play Music. Two products that I used every day, and neither had a proper app for the iPhone. During yesterday’s Google I/O keynote, the search giant addressed half of this problem, but only made my lingering desire for the other grow.
With Hangouts Google pretty much killed Talk as we know it, but it finally brought a Google-based messaging service to iPhone in a native, free form. Nonetheless, the end user won’t notice the difference. Simply enter your Google credentials and chat away as normal with the added bonus of group messaging and video calling. But don’t tell my wallet — I just spent more than a few dollars seeking out the perfect Talk replacement.
Google also announced updates to their Play Music service, the major addition being All Access, a monthly subscription service that allows users to quickly and easily stream any track from the Google Play library. Unlike Hangouts this new experience does not come with a first-ever iPhone app. Play Music remains exclusive to web and Android users, along with its free 20,000 song cloud locker for storing your own music off device. And no, I don’t really feel like paying Apple an extra fee to do the same thing, regardless of how much I enjoy their phone.
I suppose this quasi-rant is more directed at Google then anyone else. Yes, Play Music makes a fine exclusive feature that could draw more users to your Android platform. I will cede to some extent the fact that launching Play Music for iOS would also come with the headache of introducing some version of the Play content store, but it’s not a necessity to allow iOS users to buy music direct on their phones. Perhaps the app could simply feature the All Access portion of the service?
When Play Music became a subscription-based service, Google lost the ability to use monetization as an excuse. Yes, an Android user intrinsically has higher value to Google, but there is at least a good fraction of iOS users that would surely drop $9.99/month for a streaming music app with all the resources and innovations of Google behind it.
Then again, given Apple’s large stake in iTunes, maybe there is something going on behind the scenes. A gentleman’s agreement not to piss in the proverbial backyard of your neighbor, but as that is merely speculation we won’t go there.
I suppose the only left is to sit back and see how Apple responds in this little chess match. If iTunes can match (no pun intended) the efforts of Play Music All Access, perhaps I can finally bring myself to cut ties with Google’s offering.