Holiday plans: Google battles Apple for music in the cloud

Even as Apple continues to develop an iTunes to rule them all, Google's battle with Apple continues -- and a fresh skirmish is seen this morning with the sneak preview of what seemed to be an early iteration of the search giant's own cloud-based iTunes-killer, Google Music.

Purported publication of a Chinese-language webpage for the service, which promised music in both streamed and a la carte forms, came as Google officially began contingency planning regarding its new operating license in China. At present, the company is directing search traffic to servers in Hong Kong.

The appearance of this seeming music site ignited ruminations round the Apple-holic water cooler.

Android 3.0 Gingerbread is expected to debut with Google Music. That's according to Android product manager Gaurav Jain who spoke with Israeli finance paper Calcalist.

We learned at Google I/O that Google Music will offer Android music synching, meaning the first batch of handsets offering support for this will ship with Android 3.0 Gingerbread, which will hit the streets later this year.

This battle between Apple and Google is incredibly intense.

As we think we know, Apple seems set to launch (or at least preview) its own iTunes streaming service in September, so for this Christmas at least, the Google v. Apple war means we live in interesting times.

In order to match iTunes for music syncing and management, Google acquired Simplify Media earlier this year, and its software is what will drive that on Android devices.

With Apple set for a drive into television, according to numerous reports, I hear whispers Google is recruiting staff to help it drive into television.

Google has yet to address another Apple advantage -- the size of the latter's developer community.

Developers, particularly smaller shops, like to work with Apple because app prices are higher, they get more international distribution of their wares, and the user base seems more prepared to spend their cash.

In contrast, Android developers complain that it is hard to sell products via the Android Marketplace, and note that of those apps available for Android, many more of them are free.

Why? Distimo last week let us know that fee-based apps purchases via the Android Market are only available in 13 countries, as compared to the 46 countries the service operates within.

The bitter rivalry between Apple and Google clearly sees no sign of abating, will consumers be forced to take sides?

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