Amazon and iTunes dominate the $14.8 billion-per-year digital music market, but Google is trying to make a big impact on the industry with its Play store, which is available on all computers and Android devices. While Google Play is certainly a contender, a new infographic shows a rapidly changing, highly competitive industry. Google will need some serious advantages to succeed, and the Play service is definitely making some smart moves.
Google Play does have seamless integration with Google Plus, a growing but limited social network. While this is certainly an advantage for the Google team, there’s a question as to whether it’s a big advantage; the G+ network has 400 million users, and about a quarter of those users are regularly active. Google makes it easy to share and play tracks using Google Plus, but the infographic does not show any sales statistics directly related to social networking.
For many users, Google’s excellent cloud integration is a major feature that could drive future growth. Google Play can download music to a phone or computer from virtually anywhere, completely free of charge, while iTunes and Amazon MP3 both charged for their initial cloud service offerings. Google Play is therefore a simple, flexible option for anyone who wants to download music to multiple devices on the go.
The Android mobile operating system is perhaps Google’s biggest advantage in the digital music wars. For every one iPhone sold, four Android handsets are sold. Many of those Android devices come with Google Play preinstalled, and Android’s market share is growing; Apple’s iOS mobile operating system actually lost 1.1 percent of its market share over the last year. If Google keeps its service attractive, moderately priced and easy to use, we could see a new leader in digital music in the next few years.