While iTunes has done a lot to help stimulate legal music downloads in a market which has wavered between open piracy and privacy rights, it is only one of many similar services. The store now boasts a full library of decent quality AAC music encoded at 256 kilobits per second — a number which should please most cardinal-craving audiophiles –, a decent feature list, and an expanding market. But, opportunities exist across the globe for competitors to capitalise on Apple’s omissions; namely, encoding quality, features, price, and last but not least: community music services. Google are working on a service of their own which may take advantage of Apple’s ignorance of community music scenes such as LastFM, and now, the MySpace acquisition: iLike.
On 28 October, at an event called Discover Music!, Google, iLike and Lala will make presentation to members of the press regarding a new music service, ostensibly called, Google Audio. According to TechCrunch, Google’s service will integrate similarly to Google search, but derive its streaming services from established companies such as iLike and Lala.
And like Android, which will be a certain pain in Apple’s side, the service is said to support song purchases or otherwise chosen, revert to 30 second samples.
Meanwhile, I have been enjoying HD Tracks, a service which allows users to purchase full 16/44,1 kHz lossless music encoded in FLAC files at prices which resemble the highly compressed iTunes songs. While not the same as buying a CD, this service is at least one step closer to the real thing. HD Tracks also supplies 24/96 FLAC files for just double the price for the real audio nerd.