By Joseph Palenchar on Feb 10 2012 - 8:29pm


What Will Google Bring To Wireless Multiroom Audio?

Google reportedly wants to offer a wireless multiroom-audio system under its own brand.

From the looks of things, Google won’t be offering anything new. In fact, Google’s system, as reported, appears to limit a consumer’s choice of streaming and download services.

A Wall Street Journal report indicates some sort of residential gateway will access the Google Music service and distribute the content wirelessly to other Google devices in the home. Google Music is basically a music-locker service that lets you upload music residing on your PC to the cloud, from which you can stream the songs to any web-browsing device, including mobile phones. Google Music stores up to 20,000 songs free in the cloud. You can also use Google Music on your PC or smartphone to purchase songs and albums from the Android Market, then store them in the cloud for streaming to any web device.

Nice. But what would Google’s system offer in the home? Access to a cloud-based version of a music library that you already have on your PC, and there are many home audio products on the market that stream PC-stored music wirelessly. The products include Sonos’s wireless multiroom system, AirPlay-equipped AV receivers and tabletop speakers systems, Wi-Fi-equipped digital media receivers, and networked AV receivers, HTiBs, and tabletop-audio systems certified by the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA).

Heck, some of these systems not only let you stream music from a networked PC but also from mobile devices that your friends bring with them to your house. Many of the systems also let you stream thousands of free Internet radio stations and multiple subscription-based Internet music services. And there are plenty of settop boxes that also stream music and video from the cloud.

Google promises system control from an app for Android smartphones and tablets. So do a lot of other wireless audio systems. Sonos offers such apps for Android and Apple mobile devices, as will Altec Lansing in a planned wireless multiroom-audio system. For their part, Navvo Group offers remote selection of PC-stored music from an Android app, and Apple offers an app for its mobile devices to send music from a PC to AirPlay-equipped home audio devices.

So can Google succeed in a market filled with more robust products?

Google has the financial resources to build a well-designed product, promotional dollars that competitors lack to promote the system, and the razors-and-blades ability to offer paid music services, such as music downloads or other future services, through deeply discounted devices.

Perhaps Google also has some other features in store that we don’t yet know about.

Whatever Google comes up with, Google TV proved that success is far from guaranteed.

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