There’s no doubt Google’s the 600 pound gorilla when it comes to search engines and is rapidly taking over the cell phone and tablet market with their Android application. But the big surprise is Google Music. Our question, can it be high-end? First, a little catch up on Google’s assault of the connected world.
Globally, Android has racked up 36 OEMs, 215 carriers, 450,000 developers — culminating in 100 million activations in 2011 alone. There are currently 310 Android devices spread throughout 112 countries, and Google is now seeing 400,000 activations per day.
As for apps, the Android Market now holds 200,000 apps and has seen 4.5 billion installations to date. And to give you an idea of the explosive rise of Android, the last billion took place over the course of only two months.
To grow their cell phone penetration, Google has forged partnerships with carriers and manufacturers — LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, AT&T, Vodafone, Sprint, Samsung, HTC, and Verizon Wireless.
Google Music allows users to upload their entire libraries — up to 20,000 songs — to the cloud for streamable access. Traditionally organized by artist, album, song, and playlist, Google Music syncs across your smartphone, tablet, and computer instantaneously. If importing from iTunes, track info and play count is carried over. The app also includes an Apple Genius-esque feature called Instant Mix which automatically creates a playlist based on similar tracks. And, based on recently played music and user selection, tracks can be cached or “pinned” — see? — on your mobile device for access in places where connections are spotty.
Google Music is in Beta and still invite-only as the service rolls out. (You can sign up here for an invitation when they become available.) It’s free “for now” while it’s in beta. No word on how much the service will cost in the future.
Google press releases talk about uploading your entire music library (about 20,000 tracks) or about 2,000 albums, Uncompressed, a standard Red Book CD is approximately 650mB of data. If compressed into a lossless format, about 1/2 that. High resolution is anywhere from two to four times larger.
Most high-end audio people have far larger libraries than the size restraints announced by Google and our guess is the music you upload will have to be compressed in a lossy format, thus we’re betting it’s not going to be anything we as high-end lovers would be interested in for anything other than casual listening.
Consider what it would take to upload a library. A fast, modern internet connection in the home averages between 1 and 3 Mbps upload speed. These are not measured as megabytes, but rather as megaBits. To upload 650MB (the size of a CD) you need 5,200 Mb’s. This means the average time it would take to upload a CD would be between 10 minutes to as long as an hour, depending on upload speed and server acceptance speed. For ease of calculations, let’s guess you can load 3 CD’s an hour. This would therefore take 666 hours to upload a 2000 CD library, or put another way, it would take one month of upload time to place your library on Google’s music service.
This doesn’t seem to make sense, hence our conjecture that Google’s music service is going to be a limited, lossy based file system. That’s the bad news. The good news is they sure have a great looking interface!