Why does Google’s so-called “All Access” service not want my business?

Pandora accommodates me with an iPad app. Why won't Google All Access?

Pandora accommodates me with an iPad app. Why won’t Google All Access?

The moment I heard that Google was starting a music subscription service, I decided I would do with this one what I had not done with Pandora or Spotify: Pay for it.

Well, not right away. I saw that I could get it free for a month, and then pay at the discounted rate of $8 a month thereafter. If I didn’t like it the first month, I just wouldn’t pay.

But I figured it’s Google, right? So I’ll probably like it. Anyway, it would probably be integrated with my gmail and my YouTube account and everything else, so it would be convenient. Just yesterday, I used Google’s Hangout for the first time, for a three-way conversation that worked pretty seamlessly within my Google+ iPad app. There were glitches, but so far I like it better than Skype.

So I was all set to sign up when I saw this AP review:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Google Inc.’s new music service offers a lot of eye candy to go with the tunes. The song selection of around 18 million tracks is comparable to popular services such as Spotify and Rhapsody, and a myriad of playlists curated along different genres provides a big playground for music lovers.

The All Access service represents Google’s attempt to grab a bigger piece of the digital music market as more people stream songs over mobile phones. Such services are also meant to further wed smartphone users to Google’s Android operating system, where the search leader makes money from advertising and transactions on its digital content store, Google Play.

For a monthly fee, All Access lets you listen to as much music as you want over an Internet connection. You can also download songs onto mobile devices for smooth playback later when you don’t have cellphone or Wi-Fi access.

It’s worth a try for the discounted monthly rate of $8 if you sign up by the end of June. Those who sign up later will pay $10 a month, the same amount charged by the main competitors, Spotify and Rhapsody. Either way, you get the first month free and can cancel at any time…

Sounds good, right? Then I got to this part…

All Access works on the free Google Play Music app for Android devices and over Web browsers on computers — but not on the iPhone. (Spotify and Rhapsody work on both Android and the iPhone).

And not, as I read elsewhere, on my iPad, either.

I’ve got some news for Google…

According to Google’s own Analytics, more than a fifth — 22.48 percent — of this blog’s readers read it on a smartphone or tablet.

Of those, more than three-fourths — 75.8 percent — are reading this on an Apple device.

So, unless my audience is unrepresentative of the larger world (or unless, ahem, Google Analytics is wrong), right off the bat, Google is saying it only wants the business of less than one-fourth of the mobile/tablet market.

How stupid is that?

Does anyone at Google really think that satisfied iPhone and iPad users — who know, according to Google’s own Analytics, that their platforms are the current standard for which most software will be written — are going to switch to what they consider to be a lesser product just because they can sign up for a music service? When they can already get Spotify and Pandora? And when they know that an iTunes subscription service is in the works?

This speaks to a larger problem in the tech world: I thought the people at Apple were insane when they came out with the iPhone 5 without Google Maps. It really irritated me that they weren’t smart enough, humble enough to realize that Google did maps best, that it was way out ahead of anything Apple could do to imitate it, and if they really wanted their customers to have the best, they would serve them up Google Maps, as they had done with the iPhone 4. YouTube, too.

Fortunately, I was immediately able to download those Google apps for both my phone and my iPad, so no harm done.

And I see in this report from Wired that a third-party iPhone app that will give me Google All Access is in the works, too (although, when I tried to get it from the Apps Store just now, I was told it still doesn’t work for the new service).

But why should I need workarounds? Why can’t Apple recognize that Google does maps better, and Google recognize that Apple does phones and tablets better? Or, at the very least, recognize that three-fourths of the market out there believes it does, and isn’t going to use your product unless it is accommodated?

I just don’t get these people and their proprietary hubris…

38 thoughts on “Why does Google’s so-called “All Access” service not want my business?

  1. bud

    Welcome to the free market where proprietary is the rule of the day.

    My pet peeve is coupons. Why should I have to track down coupons constantly to try and save money on things that I need? Just keep the prices low for everybody and quit making me devote extra time and effort into the most basic purchasing activities. Sure for big ticket items I can understand price shopping but why on something like a bottle of ketchup? It just takes away so much from the joy of life.

    1. Silence

      Yes, just make everything at Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off so I don’t have to keep and carry those stupid blue coupons.

      1. Steven Davis II

        Because 99% of the people don’t use coupons so you pay $80 for an item the rest of the world pays $100 for. If you you were a store would you just lower prices to $80 and eat that extra $20?

        I find it interesting that a 15 cent coupon for ketchup keeps bud from enjoying life.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    It is just “myriad,” not “a myriad,” AP reviewer. Where have all the copy editors gone? The State keeps using “precedence” for “precedents” and “formally” for “formerly,” but the article about Smashburger in Georgia that features “Pimina” cheese takes the cake!

    That is all.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Wow! Who knew? I just figured somebody called the restaurant and transcribed phonetically what’s/he heard…..

  3. Doug Ross

    “Google recognize that Apple does phones and tablets better”

    Replace “does” with “markets” and add “at the moment” to the end of the sentence.

    Android phones have a larger marketshare in the U.S. (around 52% to 43%) than Apple. And worldwide it is about 70% – 30% Android. For tablets, the numbers are 53-42 in Apple’s favor but my guess is that the Android will continue to pick up market share.

    I’d say Google’s decision was based on the Apple/iTunes cartel not being worth trying to break. Consumers get to choose. Don’t want Google All Access? Don’t buy it. You have other options.

    Me? I use Tunein Radio ($1.99 pro version that allows recording) on my Android phone to listen to sports radio stations in Boston and NY and music from stations around the world. I hate iTunes with a passion and use Amazon MP3 on my phone and Kindle Fire for my music. Occasionally log into Pandora when I
    want to listen to random songs in a genre.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t like iTunes either. One nice thing about my old Blackberry that I had before my iPhone was that I could just take any MP3 song that I owned, chop off a one-minute clip of it, and load it onto my Blackberry with little more than a click and drag, and I had my own custom ringtone. I loaded a different one for everybody in my family.

      Then I discovered that Apple didn’t want me having any ringtones that I didn’t buy from iTunes. That ticked me off. I mean, if I already own the songs, I should be able to play any portion of them anywhere I want, right? But there was a workaround. There’s almost always a workaround. So now everybody in my family has their own ringtone again, without my having wasted any money on iTunes.

      But I don’t see why Google would decide that “the Apple/iTunes cartel not being worth trying to break…” I think Google DOES want to break it, and believes that the way to break it is to create a product that only plays on your own devices.

      But that doesn’t make sense. The way to break iTunes (as I think you’re suggesting) is to come out with an awesome music subscription service, and push it as hard as you can to Apple users, before iTunes comes out with their own.

      That would make sense to me. Try to grow your market by going after the other guy’s customers, rather than only selling to the people who already use your product…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        … which is both competitive and cooperative.

        These tech companies seem determined to ignore the principle of division of labor that makes a complex modern economy work. Each person specializes, and thus is able to function at a higher level in his area of specialization, and everyone else benefits from that — which wouldn’t happen if each person not only had to do his own job (say, writing software), but had to grow his own food and weave and sew his own clothing, provide his own security against crime, his own medical services, etc. As our modern economy gets more and more complex, fewer and fewer of us even cook our own food.

        If your competitor makes a great smartphone that a huge portion of the market prefers, then make a product that also plays on that product, so that you make more money.

      2. Scout

        I am one of the 1/4 apparently. I have an Android phone and I like it. I was able to make ringtones for my family from music I own without a workaround, for example. Sorry, I am not convinced of the wonders of Apple.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      Tune In Radio is awesome. I can’t pull in a decent NPR signal way down in the hole here, so I use it. I can also hear the programs I like better than what is on locally. Speaking of Schools? Not.

  4. bud

    If I want to listen to music I just tune in to Youtube and listen to whatever is free. Why buy a bunch of complicated devices, apps and other stuff that serves merely to drain the family budget.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I think intellectual property should be protected.

        At the same time, I sort of think that to make a lot of money as a musician, you should have to keep working at it, as in, perform. And I think that’s sort of where we’re going now that it’s so easy to get copies of songs free. (I don’t pay for either Pandora or Spotify, and I’m pretty pleased at what they play for me. I don’t mind the ads.)

        I don’t know. I’m torn about it. If you write a great song, you should reap benefits from it. But at the same time, it seems that the world’s sort of out of whack if you spend half an hour writing one song, and live high on the hog off of it for the rest of your life. Or, as with the protagonist in Nick Hornby’s About A Boy, if you live well your whole life and never have to work because your Dad wrote a hit song once…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I mean, professional athletes make obscene salaries, but they do have to show up and play to earn them…

          You can’t just collect a huge professional salary because you were great in high school or college. You have to keep playing…

          1. Doug Ross

            When will we expect to see all of The State’s archive content available for free? I’ll settle for last week’s news going backward to the beginning of time. I mean, the reporters have already been paid and The State has already collected its subscription fees.

      2. bud

        I only listen to what is freely available in the public domain. No copywrite infringement inolved. Often the Youtube sites offer a link to place where you can download a higher quality version of the Youtube offering.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            The tunes may be public domain, but the musicians performing them are not likely to be….

            I’m my own Walkman. -Bobby McFerrin

      3. bud

        I think you can rest easy knowing that Paul McCartney won’t go hungry tonight if someone listens to Hey Jude on YouTube or the radio for free.

        1. Doug Ross

          I know, bud. He was just a lucky guy who got all the breaks and doesn’t deserve to earn anything else for his efforts.

          1. bud

            Paul McCartney is a very talented guy and he worked hard, persevered and all that. But he was indeed fortunate to come along at the time that he did in the surroundings that he did, had the upbringing that he did. Is it just even slightly possible that Sir Paul had a bit of luck along the way? Is that such an awful thing to suggest? It takes away nothing from what he’s accomplished in life folks but seriously luck does play a role in folks lives. I can’t even begin to understand why that is such a provocative claim. It’s just a fact.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            He was a lucky man who made the grade. According to the “Paul is Dead” school, anyway.

            Seriously, he was lucky to meet John Lennon. Otherwise, we might never have heard of him.

            In saying that, I’m not running down Paul’s own talent, which is considerable. But he and John challenged each other in ways that brought out their best. I doubt that Paul would have achieved the heights of creativity he did without that relationship.

            Not only would there not have been that songwriting partnership, but I can’t imagine Paul going on his own to Hamburg to play in those sleazy clubs, where they honed their craft, without John. It’s just not Paul’s style.

            Another point about his being the lucky man: None of the other Beatles ever appreciated their success the way Paul did. He loved being a Beatle. So yeah, lucky man. Because he couldn’t have been a Beatle by himself.

          3. Stephen Davis II

            bud, do you play the lottery? If you won would you refuse all of the money because you received it purely on luck?

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, confession time here…

    On both of my laptops, my Spotify application will play anything I ask it to — not even the song I request, but the whole album if I want to hear it. Without my paying for it. Something Pandora won’t do.

    But the Spotify apps on my phone and iPad tell me that if I want to hear those same songs on those devices, I have to pay for the service.

    Is it supposed to work that way? Or am I getting something free on my laptops that I’m not supposed to be getting? I mean, I’d hate to lose access to all that stuff, but I don’t want to be breaking the rules…

  6. Bryan Caskey

    I use mostly Pandora, but when I want to listen to a specific song, I just go to YouTube. I have the free version of Pandora, so I have to click it after an hour or so during extended listening sessions. Pandora is kind of like a woman in that manner with the “Are you still listening?” button I have to click.

    Yes, dear. I’m still listening.

  7. Norm Ivey

    I use Rhapsody and Google Play. Google Play lets me listen to any song I own on my home computer through any internet connected device. Rhapsody allows me to download subscription tracks to my mp3 player. I listen to enough music and enough variety that it’s worth the monthly charge to me.

    I will be signing up for the All Access trial. I’ve yet to meet an Android/Google app or tool I don’t like. I expect it to be good. What I don’t see in reading about it is the ability to transfer music directly to an mp3 player (it sounds like it just transfers to phones), but I think they may be on their way out anyway.

    As for Google not playing nice with Apple, I’m OK with that. Apple’s attitude is you come to us and use what we think you want and Google’s is how can we do this better? Google may let a third party develop the initial app, but then will follow it up with their own–better–app. Vive la Google.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Well, as I use my new iPad mini, which I scoffed at when it was introduced, but whose lightness I now adore, or use my wafer thin, ultralight MacBook Air, I have to concede that Apple knows better than I do what I will want.

  8. JesseS

    That is tech, it is all a game of Highlander. The nerd’s gambit is that they will make enough to retire by making everything, including their own job, obsolete. If you haven’t had 200 people laid off in this business you are dumb, lazy or getting paid not to get rid of those jobs.


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