Google's Secret Weapon Against Pandora & Apple

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As far as streaming music services go, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) arrival five months ago hasn't really moved the record needle. There's nothing inherently wrong with Google Play Music All Access, but the premium platform didn't get in the way of Pandora (NYSE: P  ) hitting new highs this summer.

The only thing that did deliver a blow to Pandora -- temporarily -- was last month's debut of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iTunes Radio, baked into iOS 7. Apple got the market's attention when it revealed that 11 million users checked it out in its first week on the market.

Google was always going to have an uphill battle here. It charges for its service. Pandora and now iTunes Radio are consumed primarily as free ad-supported offerings. However, just as Spotify has been able to establish itself as a worthy choice for discerning music buffs willing to pay for uninterrupted tunes, Google is hoping to grab a larger slice of this growing pie.

This brings us to Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) new Chromebook. Made in cahoots with Google, HP's new Chromebook 11 offers many of the slick features and the cloud-based interface that have made Chrome-fueled netbooks a game-changer in an otherwise fading market. Priced at $279, we're looking at a price point well shy of the iPads, Xbox Ones, and PS4s that are angling for the holiday-shopping dollar.

But the one point worth making on HP's new Chromebook is that it comes with a 60-day-free trial of Google Play Music All Access. 

In theory, 60 days is a petty taste test. The service is just $9.99 a month, so it's not as if the $20 value is going to drum up Chromebook sales. In reality, this is really just a $9.99 value. Head out to Google Play's Music hub and you can get a 30-day free trial just because you're you.

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) knows that two months isn't enough. It typically offers at least three months for used-car buyers -- and six months or more for new car buyers -- to get drivers hooked on its satellite-radio service before shutting them off as freeloaders if they don't pay up. 

But a 60-day-free trial is certainly a substantial enough incentive to get folks to kick the tires. If HP's Chomebook 11 is a hit -- and it's priced aggressively enough to sell briskly in these operating system-agnostic times -- there will be a lot of people checking out the service that seems to have lost its buzz since the battle boiled down to iTunes versus Pandora, with Sirius XM as a peripheral player on the streaming front given its premium on-demand offerings.

Google has a new way to get to your ears, and it's priced to move to the music.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2013, at 8:51 PM, larryw101 wrote:

    I wish Motley would get rid of this guy. He's such a clown and never has anything worthwhile or intelligent to say.

    He's consumed with bashing Apple and writing articles that are baseless or weak at best.

    No one reads his articles. You're immediately turned off by the biased titles.

    Please can this Bozo Motley !

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2013, at 8:52 PM, thethreestooges wrote:

    Secret weapon? Must be a knife hidden behind so when Apple or Pandora look the other way, you stab them!

    Or is it the laser powered Googleglasses that look like a dork when you wear them in Holloween party?

    Nobody want Chrome, they want Gold. If Google change the name to Goldbook, people might want to take a look.

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2013, at 11:19 PM, twolf2919 wrote:

    You say " that have made Chrome-fueled netbooks a game-changer in an otherwise fading market". I think this is a statement that you made up in order to give credence to the rest of your scenario (that offering 60 days of free music service will attract a lot of people to Google Play Music). As far as I know, chrome books aren't exactly flying off the shelves. Why is nobody buying them? After all, even before this latest HP offering, there have been chrome books for $299. That's a full $200 cheaper than an iPad - yet Apple probably sells more iPads in a quarter than there are total chrome books out there. You think a couple months of free music access is going to change the equation?

    You're dreaming!

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2013, at 8:50 AM, FoxyLauren wrote:

    I'm a pretty average person, and to me a free trial just means something extra for however long it lasts...but it wouldn't make me more likely to buy a service unless I was really into what was being offered, and I haven't found the service to be better than Spotify (which I DO pay for) and Torch music (which is ad supported). It's too saturated a market to really make a difference without an outstanding product or offer, and neither of those is offered.

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