Something has recently dawned on me. Outside of Youtube's countless entertaining videos (and recent success with a limited-beta movie streaming service, and quiet partnership with some behemoth record labels), Google has not truly broken into the entertainment industry. So, even though we all use Google to chat with friends, plan events, find places to have fun and buy things we like, Google itself isn't entertaining. Yet.
My prediction for 2010: Google will either buy a company or create a service that allows us to stream more things that entertain us. More specifically, a way to listen to our entire music collection in the cloud (online), for free.
This is why I think this:
Google is pop-culturally relevant and it's impossible for them not to recognize the needs of the modern (wo)man.
It's always escaped me that despite all of the modern hand-held wireless devices out there, each one of them insists that you plug them in with annoying USB wires (that you never seem to have handy) to sync and add media. When Google sees a problem, they develop something that eases our suffering. When Microsoft Office's applications left us locked to our desks, Google created Google Docs that lets us update documents wherever we chose to work. Listening to our music library wherever we choose to listen only seems like a natural progression.
Another contributing factor in my prediction—Nexus One. You have to be living in a cave (or at least not care) to not notice the mobile phone wars going on right now. It seems like Google's phone (and other Android phones) is the greatest contender against the almighty iPhone. What Android phones don't have is their own iTunes. Amazon music allows Android users to buy mp3s, but the Android music player seems disconnected and leaves much to be desired. Google has to recognize this, but they also must recognize that they can't just re-create iTunes.
Apple and Lala
Last but not least, and the most telling reason of all, is Apple's recent purchase of Lala. Lala has been many things. A CD-swapping site. An internet radio site. A web-album distributor. And now they're making it possible to stream and sync your entire music library from the web, for free. Apple clearly realized the missed opportunity to allow iTunes users' to listen to their libraries online, so buying Lala was only the natural step for the company.
With Apple music now in the cloud, and a clear interest in this area, Google has to react by doing what they do best—offering really great tech products for free. With Nexus One and other Android phones quickly gaining on iPhones market share, offering users access to more personalized media from the web and hand-held devices will only further Google's hold on us. More media served in the form of personalized entertainment will add one more vehicle for driving ad revenue for the company.
If my prediction is wrong for 2010, I can't imagine that Google's progression in the entertainment world won't happen soon after that. If my prediction is right, then I'll look forward to never having to hook my iPod up to my computer again. Your move, Google.