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Monday, May 09, 2011, 08:00 pm PT (11:00 pm ET)

Google to preempt Apple's iCloud with new music service on Tuesday

A new report claims Google will show off a new music service resembling Amazon's Cloud Drive on Tuesday at the company's I/O conference.

Peter Kafka of MediaMemo reported on Monday that Google Music will be unveiled on Tuesday without the cooperation of major music labels. Though the search giant had originally planned a "more robust version" of the service, talks between Google and the labels have stalled, according to the report.

“Unfortunately, a couple of the major labels were less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms,” said Jamie Rosenberg, who oversees digital content and strategy for Google’s Android platform.

Without music licenses, Google will be unable to sell songs to users of the service, Kafka said. The company plans to offer free storage up to 20,000 and include a feature that automatically generates playlists in order to differentiate itself from competing services.

Google Music is expected to launch with an invite-only beta on Tuesday, and then roll out to all U.S. users "within weeks." Google executive Zahavah Levine told CNet that the service will require a browser that supports Flash, making it incompatible with Apple's iOS devices.

Rosenberg declined to comment on future pricing plans for Google Music, though he did say that at least part of the service is designed to be free of charge. “I think as Google typically does, I think the free aspect will continue to be very generous,” he said.

Rival Amazon launched its Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in late March, offering 5GB of free storage, enough for roughly 2,000 songs. After the launch, reports emerged that the online retailer had released the service before securing new licenses with the music labels. Media industry members were stunned, with some viewing the service as illegal.

Amazon's cloud music service launched with support for streaming via the Web and on Google Android devices, but the company quietly began supporting Apple's iOS devices last week. iOS users who navigate to the site will receive a warning that the mobile Safari browser is not supported, though the service does indeed work.
Amazon

Meanwhile, Apple is prepping its own service, which is expected to be named iCloud. AppleInsider reported late last month that the company has been using the iCloud name internally and plans to support more than just music. The service would be integrated into both iOS 5.0 and Mac OS X Lion and would sync and store information such as bookmarks, email, contacts and iCal events.

Last month, reports claimed that Apple had completed work on a cloud-based iTunes music streaming service and signed licensing deals with at least two of the four major music labels.

Apple's new $1 billion, 500,000 square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C., is expected to play a vital role in supporting the rumored service. The company's executives have already stated that the massive server farm will support iTunes and MobileMe when it commences operations this spring.