Moto Chief: Honeycomb Mobile OS to Include Google Music Service
Google's long-rumored digital music service will be rolled out with the release of Honeycomb, or Android 3.0, the tablet-optimized mobile operating system backed by the Internet giant, Motorola's mobility chief said while attending Mobile World Congress. Motorola's Xoom tablet is being prepped for release sometime in the next month or so, and is expected to cost $799, unsubsidized, on Verizon Wireless, while the Wi-Fi-only version will cost about $600, but the bigger news is that it will be the first Android tablet to ship with Honeycomb -- and likely a Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) music service. "If you look at Google Mobile services [via Android] today, there's a video service, there's a music service that is, there will be a music service," said Sanjay Jha, head of Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), according to The Guardian's report on a Google music service tie-in with Honeycomb. The Google music service rumor has been floating around since 2009 when the company launched one in China. Later, Google worked with Rhapsody to launch a music search tool. Most recently, Google in May announced it had purchased music sharing software firm Simplify Media and was integrating some of its digital music services into Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo.
Also noteworthy: Google's digital content payment plan, One Pass, announced yesterday, reportedly only covers online newspapers and magazines, but not music, which could mean that Google has other plans for processing online purchases of digital music. Honeycomb is currently available to developers, but it has not been issued to the public, and there was no mention of a music service when Google showed it off at an Android 3.0 demo event on Feb. 2. Google did not return calls seeking comment. Jha, however, has a good track record when it comes to dropping hints about big developments in the mobile industry. For instance, during an investment briefing in December with analysts, he spoke in somewhat vague yet foreboding language about the Verizon iPhone, saying, "at Verizon, there is a competitive dynamic developing there which may have an impact" on Motorola's bottom line. Jha also defended the price of the Xoom, which critics have said is too expensive, by saying that the Xoom's potential to run on Verizon's 4G network merits the cost. Xoom owners will get a free upgrade to Verizon's LTE network as it becomes available.