Google Play

Joshua Topolsky:

Google is taking a big new step in bringing all of its content arms under one roof — and that new entity is called Google Play. Starting today, Google will begin a rebranding of the Android Market, Google Music, Google Books, and its video offerings. Until now, all of those content hubs had more or less resided under the banner of the Android Market, and it seems like the company is interested in making users understand those disparate pockets of content as a unified whole.

I don't plan to make use of the Google Play Store, but I applaud Google for its continued willingness to consolidate, streamline, and trim its various services into increasingly cohesive entities. Matters of Google Play's obvious competition aside, it's certainly positive to see Google actively working to remedy problems in its media ecosystem.

Google Hardware On the Horizon

Rounding off a thoroughly Google-filled day, Amir Efrati reports for The Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. is developing a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company's own brand, according to people briefed on the company's plans.

Although a Google-branded stereo certainly seems an odd choice, I imagine it's merely the first step for Google. On the cusp of having its Motorola acquisition approved, Google is evidently shoring up plans for expansion into hardware production, strengthened by Motorola's patent library. By introducing a stereo system, no matter the relevance, Google will announce its entrance into the hardware industry, and it will likely alert competitors in a variety of fields.

Rumors have persisted in recent months and years regarding Google-branded devices leveraging the Search giant's various services. Whether it's a Google-branded tablet, streaming device, or music system, Google's apparently impending introduction into the hardware business lends a large amount of credibility to formerly dismissed rumors.

Considering the veritably chaotic Android device market and the Google TV quagmire, Google-branded devices may well provide some semblance of stability to an otherwise volatile market. Although Efrati writes only of a music system, rest assured, this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

As M.G. Siegler concludes, "Google is getting into hardware."

What's Next for Spotify?

What's next for Spotify? (via AllThingsD)

Spotify has announced a press event for November 30th with the intention of answering the question, "What's next for Spotify?"

Peter Kafka makes some guesses as to what this might entail:

There are a couple obvious things that Spotify can add to its product lineup that I assume are in the works. In Europe, for instance, Spotify offers an MP3 store, so users can buy songs directly from the service instead of heading to iTunes or Amazon (and now, Google). But the U.S. version of the service doesn’t have one.

At some point I also assume we’ll see an iPad app for the service, but perhaps one that functions more like a remote control/console than a full-fledged client.

But neither one of those developments seems worthy of a press conference. And the company has generally avoided big launch events in general — when it rolled out in the U.S. this summer, for instance, it did so without ever putting Ek onstage. So either the company has something truly big up its sleeve. Or it is courting the risk of over-promising.

Following the loss of close to 238 labels last week, fresh questions have been raised over the service's long-term prospects -- particularly following the release of Google Music, and iTunes Match. The press event on November 30th will mark Spotify's first chance to fire back at naysayers, to discuss its international expansion, and to hopefully introduce something innovative for the platform.

Over 200 Labels Withdraw from Spotify and Rdio

Spotify Founders Daniel Ek & Martin Lorentzon (via Spotify PR)

Duncan Geere:

Following a study that claims that streaming music is damaging to record sales, a distributor representing more than 200 labels has withdrawn its entire catalogue from Spotify, Napster, Simfy and Rdio.

Geere makes the argument that this exodus might prove to be representative of an impending collapse for the streaming industry. I'm inclined to disagree.

Realistically, one distributor, STHoldings, has withdrawn following one study. The majority of large labels and distributors are still on board. For reference, here is a list of STHoldings' labels.

Streaming is likely to become the future for the music industry, which is expected to provoke hesitancy in streaming service partners. Just as labels have come and gone from iTunes, the vast majority have resigned to the fact that their industry's business model is changing, and are reluctantly abiding by the changing marketplace's terms.

That's not to say that streaming services offer perfect business models -- they don't. There have been issues over royalties since Spotify and Rdio's respective launches. But with iTunes Match, Google Music, and other large players shifting toward streaming, I'd argue that the streaming industry is not set to die out any time soon. So while a large quantity of labels may have jumped ship today, I wouldn't be surprised to see them back in future, and in greater quantities.

Google's Relationship Issues

Yours Truly on The Loop:

Google’s primary partners have been putting out products using Google’s software, and virtually all reviews of said products highlight the same, buggy software problems. Accordingly, these products flop. While this is certainly not the only cause of failure, it is certainly a contributing factor, and it may prove costly for Google in the long run.