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Google Readies Cloud Music Without Record Company Blessing

It was almost exactly a year ago that Google briefly demo’d a cloud-based music service for Android that also allowed users to stream their iTunes libraries to Android handsets (see video below). That service was supposed to launch before holiday 2010.

However there have been numerous stories chronicling setbacks in Google’s efforts to launch its music service, most notably its protracted and apparently unsuccessful negotiations with record labels.

Now, without the labels, Google Music (or whatever it’s actually called) is set to launch either tomorrow or Wednesday at Google I/O.

Ahead of the event we’ve seen a flurry of expected announcements (YouTube movie rentals) and minor upgrades (Goggles, Image sorting). It remains to be seen whether Google Music is one of the big announcements of the next two days.

(See also Danny’s review of past I/O products: Where Are They Now? Products Announced During Past Google I/O Keynotes, which includes a discussion of the various incarnations of Google’s past music efforts.)

Google’s competitor to iTunes and Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and Cloud Player will reportedly be a more modest effort. The suspense comes in guessing the precise features that the new Google music service will provide.

The WSJ speculated that Google will initially offer a “passive” music locker that stores music but isn’t tied to a music store like iTunes or Amazon’s store. It will reportedly allow users to upload their music libaries and stream them to any connected device (PC, handset or tablet). However its functionality will be limited, given the absence of a music store.

By the same token the lack of a music store isn’t likely to impact Android sales in any way. Android has been doing just fine without a native music service.

The video above is Google’s Vic Gundotra’s keynote from day two of last year’s I/O event. The demo of some of the features that will launch with Google Music can be seen starting at 33:10.

Image from Techfrom10. Used with permission.

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