|Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) reaches for stars on music service announcement |
|Its name is now part of the social language of the world; gone are the days when, if folks were at a loss for information, we merely researched it. Now, we "Google" it, in one of those exemplary cases of a noun turning into a verb almost overnight.
The search engine that spawned this noun/verb witnessed a milestone this week on stock markets, as Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) topped the $900 U.S. mark per share. It was one of those instances of "buy on the rumor, sell on the fact", with the price vaulting over suspense about what the company would say Wednesday at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco. As luck would have it, Google CEO Larry Page had trouble getting the words out due to a vocal cord ailment.
The announcement would prove to be huge, regardless of whether made by Page or an underling: the company unveiled a streaming music service called All Access that blends songs users have already uploaded to their online libraries with millions of other tracks for a monthly fee of $9.99 U.S.
The service puts the internet goliath in competition with popular paid subscription plans like Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody and free music services like Pandora.
The competition for the music service dollar is growing fierce. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to debut a digital radio service later this year; Google-owned YouTube is also working on a paid subscription music plan; and Sweden's Spotify is exploring a way to make a version of its paid streaming plan free with ads on mobile devices.
Not that everything has been sweetness and light for the company this week. On Friday, controversy surrounded the company’s yet-to-be-released Google Glass spectacles, in the form of a letter sent to Page from a U.S. congressional privacy group, posing eight fundamental questions about privacy. The letter is not so much a "j’accuse" as a request for more information.
The first asks about how Google will prevent the "unintentional collection of data," from both the user and non-user without consent. Next question concerns the privacy of those not wearing the glasses, and the security of data stored on them, particularly on glasses being sold privately. The third question aims to clarify the inclusion of facial recognition software, while a fourth called for examples of the limits Google will put in place on Glass to avoid invading privacy.
The lawmakers want Google to respond by June 14, but a New York Times article quoted company honchos as saying face recognition features won’t be added to Glass until "we have strong privacy protection in place"
Whether the controversy is finding its way into the souls of investors remains to be seen, but the price remains a humdinger, hitting a 52-week high of $919.98 U.S. on Thursday, May 16, before settling in at $902.84 U.S. around noon ET on the Friday. The stock’s 52-week low was plumbed in mid-June of last year, at $556.52 U.S.