Here's one you probably weren't expecting: There's a rumor Google's poised to leap into yet another business sector—music. Actually, given Google's expansionist habits it's probably not a surprise. But it is confusing.
The rumor's popped up at TechCrunch, coming from sources within the music industry and Google itself, it seems. And we know very, very little about the actual details—those same sources aren't even sure if it'll be called Google Music, or Google Audio (though at least its name is following Google's tried, tested and slightly tired naming theme). TechCrunch has heard it'll be different to the music service the company launched in China recently, which lets you find and download tracks for free.
We do know that Google's been schmoozing the record labels for weeks to get content lined up for the service, but it's unclear if you'll be able to download it, if it'll be a stream-based system or what.
From the record label's point of view, it kinda makes sense (even while it jars against the industry's reluctance to be groovy about MP3s). Google is a huge name, a veritable Internet superpower—and if anyone can promote your music to billions of people successfully, it's Google. An alliance with Google also is a way of tackling Apple's monolithic iTunes, which currently leads the digital music market and probably has more power than the record labels would like. And Google, of course is the portal to all those nasty RIAA-baiting pirate music torrents—a Google Music system could be a neat way for the labels to intercept people before they get to the illegal stuff. And, of course, with more and more music services popping up—things like Spotify—how could Google resist extending one of its digital tentacles into what seems to be a booming market?