Online Music – Apple Vs. Google Vs. Microsoft

Entertainment, it seems, is the next big area where the biggest of the technology giants shall be competing. Apple has, for a long time, enjoyed virtual monopoly in this segment with its iTunes service. However, that may not stay for a long time as we see Microsoft and Google gearing themselves up for the clash.

The modus operandi may not be the same for all the three companies, but we can say that all the three different strategies might work and time will tell how each of these companies will perform.

Apple’s iTunes needs no introduction. While Microsoft Zune may be an also-ran, the company’s latest announcement to launch an Bing entertainment service that will integrate the company’s search engine offering with its Zune music offering.

So, for instance, searching for “Songs by Lady Gaga” will show you this.

Bing Music Search

Quite clearly, the focus is on getting the users engage with content right on the website and go ahead and purchase the same from Zune. Bing enjoys integration with lyrics and music from a catalog of over 5 million songs. With a majority of users going online to look for music lyrics and purchases, this is definitely a market to tap.

Google did make some moves late last year with its Music OneBox (in association with Lala), but did not go much beyond. However, the company has made its intention clear to offer a full fledged music service soon. According to Scott Morrison from the Wall Street Journal, the company could be launching a music download service that is tied to the search engine later this year followed by an online subscription service in 2011. These are not lofty plans considering that rivals have already begun their implementation.

However, Microsoft can still go for the kill now. The company has at least a couple of months to position their search service as the destination to go for online music. If Bing does succeed in pulling online music seekers, then expect three major destinations for online music by the mid of next year.

A lot of consolidation may happen thereafter with startup services like Spotify in the fray too.

[via WSJ, Bing Blog]