While the world waits for Apple to unveil its post-Lala acquisition cloud strategy for iTunes, rival Google is already in the mix.
A late announcement from the company’s I/O conference yesterday pointed to a major push into cloud-based media deliver for Android-based mobile phones, including music.
At the heart of the strategy is a newly revealed acquisition of Simplify Media—a content-synching platform for mobile phones. Google plans to build this synching feature into a new version of Android, which would allow users to stream music from iTunes directly to phones supporting the new technology.
Some have positioned this  as a challenge to iTunes, which seems like a stretch because all the technology does is let users stream their music that they already bought on iTunes. To work, the user’s home computer must be on with the iTunes (or other music management software) app up and running.
Google VP Vic Gundotra outlined the potential of the technology during a keynote at the event, but noted that it was all just a demo and that Google has not formed any label partnerships for the service. Of course it’s not fully clear if Google (or Apple, once it formally enters this game) even needs to strike labels deals to do this. The major labels certainly want to be paid extra for allowing remote streaming access to purchased downloads—either through a higher wholesale fee for the download or on a per-stream basis subsequent to the sale—but all it takes is for either Google or Apple to challenge that to create the next great legal dust-up of the Web 2.0 age.
Google also struck a deal with Sony to include this version of Android into additional consumer electronics devices, which could bring this streaming functionality to far more devices than just mobile phones.
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