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Google's service, expected to be named Google Music (based on a logo TechCrunch discovered on the company's website), will be a web-based service that allows downloads of music and Android apps.
Google gave a brief preview of the service at its I/O event, where it also announced having acquired Simplify Media. That product will be used to deliver a desktop app that can wirelessly stream local music to Android devices.
Third party iTunes alternatives for Android
Google's efforts to match Apple's iTunes features integrated into its iPhone OS may stomp out the emerging third party solutions to the feature gap on Android, including the desktop and mobile apps created by DoubleTwist that already serve as an iTunes alternative for Android.
DoubleTwist was founded by "DVD Jon" Lech Johansen originally as a product to defeat iTunes' DRM in order to sync protected media to alternative media players, smartphones, and other devices such as the Sony PSP.
More recently, the application has evolved into an iTunes alternative for Android users who currently have no way to browse for apps outside of the very limited web page Google provides for its Android Market, which lacks even the basic capacity to search for software titles.
DoubleTwist also acts as an iTunes alternative for syncing music and media from a desktop PC to Android phones, another standard component entirely missing from Google's mobile platform.
DoubleTwist has also delivered an Android app that serves as a media player to replace the Google-supplied music player commonly derided as "something of a joke in the smartphone world," according to a report by Fast Company, which noted a variety of other third party alternatives to Google's music player, including bTunes, MixZing, Cubed, and TuneWiki.
Death for DoubleTwist?
There are some significant missing features in both DoubleTwist's existing and Google's planned apps, and no combination of apps for Android provide the seamless, consistent and refined experience of Apple's combination of iTunes on the desktop and its iPod, iTunes, and App Store iPhone OS apps for its mobile devices.
Still, it will be interesting to see how Android's music playback, media sync and software distribution evolve as Google rolls its own solutions for the platform in competition with the diverse group of competing third party alternative players, media sync tools and app store browsers.
While Google is unlikely to block apps that overlap its own functionality (as Apple has in its own App Store), the delivery of a standard player, streaming service, and software interface for Android by Google would likely erase the prospects of third party developers like DoubleTwist, much as Apple has been criticized for in its introduction of Mac OS X services such as Sherlock 3 (competing against Watson) Dashboard widgets (competing with Konfabulator).