It appears that Google is nearly ready to launch its much-anticipated online music store.
While rumors have been circulating about the upcoming release of Google Music, Spanish tech site TecnoDroidVe over the weekend published what it claims are Google Music screen shots. That prompted quick online speculation that the online music store is just about ready for launch.
"It looks good," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research. "iTunes makes it very easy to buy music -- so easy you don't even think about it. Google needs to do the same. In addition to looking nice, Google needs to make sure it's as easy to use as possible."
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Kerravala said the service may look ready to go, but it's not clear where Google stands on content.
Various online reports have contended that Google, which has remained mum on everything about a potential music store, has inked deals with music industry players Universal Music Group and EMI. However, reports also maintain that the company has yet to set up any deals with the likes of industry heavyweights Sony Music and Warner Music Group.
There's a lot of speculation that despite their lack of deals, Google could launch the new online music store as soon as this week.
Google Music, which would be a direct challenge to Apple iTunes and Amazon.com's Cloud Player service, would be linked directly to Google Music Beta, a cloud-based service launched in May. Music Beta is set up to let users store music and then stream it to their mobile devices or PCs. However, it does not enable users to buy music.
When Google Music Beta was launched, it was widely assumed that an online music store would be next in line.
"Music is very important to keep eyeballs on Google," said Kerravala. "The smartphone is so much more than a phone. People want music, movies and games on their phones. If I can't get what I want when I want it on Android, I'll go elsewhere."
Google appears to be focused on integrating its upcoming Google Music service with its other services.
The Wall Street Journal reported late last month that Google Music will be tied to Google+, the company's new social networking site.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is [email protected]