According to the paper, Google is reportedly in negotiations with major record labels and eager to launch the virtual storefront within the next few weeks. So far there's no indication that the MP3 store will follow Amazon's own offering of automatically storing digital purchases in the customer's virtual locker indefinitely, and for free.
Although Google's Android currently commands the smartphone market, the platform lacks two major components that have made Apple's iOS so popular: the ability to purchase video and music straight from the device natively. Google recently opened a video rental service on the Android Market, but that still doesn't answer the consumer's call for actually owning movies and TV episodes to be watched on Android devices. On the music front, Amazon stepped in and saved the day with Amazon MP3 and its complimentary cloud storage.
Google is supposedly gunning to throw the doors open to its MP3 store before Apple launches its upcoming iTunes Match service. The search engine giant may also want to see the music store up and running by the time Ice Cream Sandwich starts to roll out on devices. But the launch may be delayed nonetheless because record studios still feel that Google hasn't addressed all of their concerns.
"We want to make sure the locker doesn’t become a bastion of piracy," one senior label executive said.
Google tried to launch a full-fledged music service before but failed to acquire proper licenses from the major record labels. The service was to allow consumers to match their current music collection against a vast central database that would in turn unlock high quality versions to be streamed or downloaded. But the negotiations dissolved based on piracy concerns and financial issues, thus Google launched the current Music Beta virtual locker in May which requires users to upload their own digital music.
As it stands now, Music Beta users can upload and store their music indefinitely and without storage limitations until Google lifts the "Beta" tag. Music can be streamed and/or downloaded to any Internet browser and/or Android device using the most recent Music app featuring the headphones icon (not the stock app with the speaker icon). To compensate for its lack of an actual storefront, Google also offers free music on a daily basis via the Magnifier blog that's dumped directly into the Music Beta locker.