Bloomberg Businessweek reports today that Universal is nearing a deal with Google to allow its catalog of artists to be available via Google’s planned music service. Said service would allow you to download and store music online, allowing you to access your library from multiple devices. There’s also talk in the Bloomberg article of sharing music with friends on Google+, the search engine’s social networking site. We guess it would work something like Spotify on Facebook that allows you to broadcast and share what you’re listening to with friends in your news feed. The news comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Universal, the world’s largest record company, plans on purchasing EMI’s recording division for $1.9 billion. The deal between EMI and Universal has yet to be approved by regulators regarding anti-trust issues, and there is no word yet as to how it might affect the Google deal if the Universal/EMI merger gets shut down. But chances are high that it will continue on regardless since EMI was said to be nearing an agreement with Google even prior to the Universal sale.
Google is no doubt gearing up to mount a challenge to Apple and iTunes. Between its download service, iPhones, iPads and iPods, Apple wrote the book on digital media and how to sell it. Google’s taken note. Android Smartphone software, Google+ and now the music store are all investments in areas practically invented by Apple. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Samsung had knocked Apple from its place as the No. 1 seller of smartphones in the world. Samsung devices use Google’s Android software. But dethroning Apple, or at least getting some of the company’s market, may prove difficult. When it comes to smartphones, if this entry by Michael Degusta from The Understatement is any indication, Google’s bad track record of software updates could make switching to Google from iTunes a tough sell. In a nutshell, Degusta points out that statistically Android devices have shipped with older software with no updates to come until you buy a whole new phone. Updates on Android phones come through the phone manufacturer rather than downloaded straight to the phone à la Apple and its iPhone, says Degusta. Food for thought as Google tries to take a bite out of a very big Apple.