Google has finally launched its Play Music store in India.
The company announced a slew of new products related to India yesterday, but the local launch of its music service was not among them. Nevertheless, a number of eagle-eyed Google fans in India noticed that the service came online for them today — Google later confirmed the launch in a statement.
While the Play Music store has launched, there are some caveats. It doesn’t include the Spotify-like ‘All Access’ streaming service and there’s no radio or podcasts yet. Mashable reported that content is priced from 15 INR ($0.22) per track and 90 INR ($1.35) per album.
Google Play Music store was first launched in the U.S. in 2011, so it has taken a long time to make its way to India. But these days India is a key focus for Google, as company CEO Sundar Pichai — who was born in India himself — explained in a recent op-ed. Not only is India tipped to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, but its internet revolution is in its early days — just 300 million of its estimated 1.3 billion population go online now. That presents plenty of growth opportunities and scope for innovation to help things evolve faster. Also, unlike China, Google isn’t locked out of the market so it stands to reason that India could develop into a lucrative market for the search giant.
Google Play Music is joining a congested market though. Apple Music and Australia’s Guvara are among the international players that compete with domestic rivals Gaana, which owned by media giant Times Internet, and Saavn, which raised $100 million led by Tiger Global last year. Others could follow, too. We reported earlier this year that Spotify is eyeing a launch in India in the not too distant future.
Competition aside, India is a challenging market for digital goods since buying online is not yet a habit that mainstream consumers have adopted in large numbers. That’s partly down to the need to change behaviors and attitudes, but the fact that credit and debit card penetration is below 10 percent means that few could buy music even if they wanted to.
Earlier this year, Google added carrier billing for content, allowing consumers to make payment via their mobile operator without the need for card. That hasn’t been enabled for Google Play Music purchases yet, but Google hinted that it will be added soon.
“Now you can download your favorite local and global music on Google Play in India, plus get free storage for up to 50,000 songs from your music collection. Currently these services are only available to users with international credit cards, but we’ll be expanding soon to additional forms of payment,” a spokesperson said.