We still don’t have the official, bigger picture of what Google (NSDQ: GOOG) intends to do in its music strategy, and whether it will have what it takes to make an effective inroad into the legitimate digital music market dominated by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), but now we have what appears to be another piece in the puzzle: the Internet giant has bought Canada-based mobile music streaming service PushLife, a mobile startup founded in 2008 by ex-RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) executive Ray Reddy.
In official announcement on the homepage of PushLife, financial terms of the deal are not disclosed. But a report in the blog StartupNorth, which broke the news before the official announcement, said its sources put the value at around $25 million (not clear whether that figure is U.S. or Canadian dollars).
PushLife’s service currently allows users buy and synchronise music on their phones with music libraries on their PCs, using iTunes or Windows Media Player as the primary storage centers. PushLife also enables users to manage playlists from their phone; and share what they’re listening to through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. PushLife’s service currently works on Nokia (NYSE: NOK) (S40 & S60), BlackBerry, LG (SEO: 066570), Samsung, and other Android devices. But not those based on iOS from Apple.
How will PushLife fit into Google’s wider plans? The news comes as speculation grows what Google plans to do with its own music service, dubbed “Google Music”, which was reportedly scheduled for a late-2010 launch but is still a work-in-progress.
Something could be coming soon: in late March, reports emerged that Google has already been testing out a music service among its employees.
But a simple music download service may not be Google’s focus: One of the key areas for digital (and specifically mobile) music, given the storage limitations of handsets and the growing use of multiple devices to consume music, is the idea of consuming music on a mobile that is actually stored somewhere else, be it in a cloud or your PC at home.
Earlier in the month, someone on the XDA Developers forum noted that installing Android Honeycomb onto a mobile device (yes, just as Google doesn’t want you to do) he was able to “turn on” a synching function in the Android music player that had until then not worked. (That loophole apparently closed down after a while.)
It may well be that PushLife will be able to provide Google Music with the synching technology, and the other bells and whistle that come with it.
In any case, this seems to be more of an acquisition of technology rather than customers: PushLife says that as a result of the acqusition, it will be “eventually discontinuing” its service as it integrates into Google’s engineering team in Canada.
Not that much is known about how many customers PushLife had for its own business before the Google buy: In addition to selling its service directly to consumers, its two publicly revealed customers were Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) in Canada and the UK although there may have been others.
We have reached out to Virgin Media in the UK, which started to work with PushLife in December, for an update and to ask what the news will mean in terms of its own service. We will add to this post if we learn more.
Google’s Canadian headquarters are in Toronto, and the company has bought two other Canadian startups in recent years: Bumptop and SocialDeck.