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Google Music vs Apple Music: What will you tune into?

By Raghu Krishnan
April 10, 2017 12:18 IST
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The search giant's music streaming service in India is priced a third lower than the iPhone maker's subscription fee. Raghu Krishnan reports.

Priyanka Chopra

IMAGE: Priyanka Chopra grooves to her version of I Can't Make You Love Me. It's not just Apple Music, Google Play Music is also taking on local rivals like Gaana and Saavn in India.

Following in the footsteps of iPhone maker Apple, technology giant Google has launched its subscription-based music streaming service in India -- a move that aims to build loyalty among the subscribers to remain in its ecosystem, and take on local rivals like Gaana and Saavn.

The multinational company's move to charge a monthly subscription for Google Play Music also underscores a shift, that Indian customers are likely to pay for a service than consume it with advertisements. Google Play Music, launched this week, is priced at Rs 89 a month, compared to Rs 120 for Apple Music. Apple, however, has a student plan at Rs 60 a month, which looks to engage the first-time users.

"With Google Play Music subscription, Indian subscribers can listen to their favourite music across a variety of languages, including Hindi, English, Tamil and more. This music can be accessed from any device with your Google Account," said Elias Roman, lead product manager, Google Play Music, in a statement.

"To make the experience deeply personalised, we've plugged into Google's understanding of context and machine learning to recommend the right music at the right moment based on each listener's preference, place and activity," said Roman.

Google -- which dominates India's internet market as most users come online on smartphones that run on its Android platform -- is keen to protect its turf.

Its music service is also available on Apple's iOS platform and on desktop computers, suggesting an ongoing battle between the two technology giants for dominance in the Indian market.

Indian music streaming services Gaana and Saavn have a paid subscription model, but they also earn revenue by offering free streaming of music supported with advertisements. Both firms have huge libraries of local music. Apple and Google are dipping into their collection of international music to tap users.

Google's push with its music service in India comes in view of Apple's plan to use services as a bait to lure local users ahead of its big expansion in the country.

Apple is offering its music services on Android devices, giving it a taste of its ecosystem. It is locally assembling its affordable iPhone SE in the country, which it wants to position as an aspirational smartphone for young Indian users.

Apple has also begun streaming its music on the entertainment platform of cab aggregator Ola and reach out to its over 25 million customers.

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Raghu Krishnan
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