Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Battle Of Evermore: Apple vs. Google

Article first published on BlogCritics as The Battle Of Evermore: Apple vs. Google

Do you think that, when Led Zeppelin recorded “The Battle Of Evermore”, that they ever envisioned a digital battlefield?

The Apple King took his bow and then surveyed his gold
The Google Prince embraced the gloom and challenged the iPhone

Oh, digital services fight to the music industry’s delight
The Android rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all

Oh, throw down your mouse and keyboard, race now to my mobile phone
Side by side we wait to see who’s the biggest of them all

On September 7, the story broke from that Google is getting serious about its oft-rumored challenge to the Apple iTunes/iPod/iAnythingElse dynasty. The internet giant is in talks with several major record labels preparing to launch its own digital music service - which would be available not only online through Google but through the iPhone’s biggest competition to date, the Android OS - by year’s end.

Many have tried to end Apple’s stranglehold on the digital music market and to force the gadget giant to relinquish some of its control over the music industry. Amazon, (the legitimized) Napster, and many others have failed to cut in to iTunes’s 70% of the digital market share.

Many in the music industry would love to see someone make it happen, as Apple has reportedly become very restrictive in its demands to labels when offering their music. With the lion’s share of the sales, Apple also has the lion’s share of the power to dictate file format, quality, pricing, you name it. With an much more established presence on the world wide web and, thanks to Android-based phones selling at the rate of 200,000 a day, Google now stands as the biggest challenge to Apple’s music industry dominance - and they’re gearing up for a Middle Earth-sized battle.

I hear consumers clicking down in the valley below
They’re waiting for an end to monopoly, waiting for Google to go

The Apple corporation now holds the seeds of happiness
Their coffers are rich from innovation there, which they do not forget (no, no)

Oh, digital services fight to the music industry’s delight
The Apples turn to brown and black, Steve Jobs's face is red

Oh, the war upon us nigh, choose your service and buy
Who will win - Android or iPad? Labels want to know

Oh well, the hour is long, but downloads never slow
Apple now has the prize, that Google has coveted so

Looking to capitalize on the oncoming storm sure to rage when digital giants clash, many within the music industry can’t wait for Google to throw down the gauntlet.

Former Universal Music Group executive (now a counsel at Loeb & Loeb) Larry Kenswil illustrates how the battle can spill over to the mobile market, explaining, “There’s no dearth of music available on a computer right now, but Google can still have an impact on the cellphone or any connected device.”

Simon Wheeler, who heads up the digital end of the London-based Beggars Banquet label, says, “Google has a wealth of data, from YouTube, as well as from search, that can inform on what people are consuming and looking for music wise.”

Taking it a step further, an unidentified label executive says, “Finally here’s an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform. What you’ll have is a very powerful player in the market that’s good for the music business.”

Another unidentified executive for a label currently in negotiations with Google is a little more careful. “We’re cautiously optimistic because Google has great scale and reach but doesn’t have a track record in selling stuff.”

The pain of war matters not, as long as you have the most cash
For one shall stand, one shall fall, when these giants clash

Sing as you click and buy with more confidence than before
Take comfort that the Apple/Google brawl will be so bold

Oh, digital services fight to the music industry’s delight
The Industry’s coffers writ in gold to take the power back (take it back)

At last the sun is shining, the market’s open wide
With digital offers from companies, on a whim you can buy

Oh, take it back, take it back...

While the archaic debate rages on from dinosaurs like U2’s manager Paul McGuinness about illegal file-sharing, it’s clear that Apple has turned a huge profit - not to mention revolutionized the music industry - by regulating the practice in a form that many consumers now can not do without. Google looks to take the challenge head-on by applying its mastery of web (and now phone) applications to the digital download market, hoping the buying public can rally around a known and trusted name other than Apple. The Battle of Evermore begins this Christmas, and it may not end for a long time.

No comments: