The digital music market is about to grow in a big way. The Wall Street Journal just confirmed Google’s plans to roll out a digital music download and subscription service, to be up and running by 2011. The service, rumored to be called Google Music, would allow users on computers and Android-based phones to take full advantage of this service. With its Android platform gaining ground in the mobile market, Google is seizing the opportunity to further compete with Apple’s iTunes and iPhone. Although Google doesn’t have much of a background in the music industry, its competitive advantages – Android, expertise and market share in online search, and cloud-based operations – could make the service a great success.

Android

Android’s growth has yet to slow down, with a reported 100,000 new activations each day. A report by AdMob found Android in first place for total mobile Web and app usage. Google’s plans for its music service on the Android could give sales and usage even more of a boost. Early reports on Google Music say the search giant plans to add an official app to the Android Market allowing users access to their music on their phones, without connecting it to a computer first. Users would also be able to stream music, similar to Pandora. Android is well-positioned to help Google Music grow – with Android models available on nearly every wireless network, there’s a huge opportunity to take advantage of the existing user-base, and further target users who are joining every day.

Online Search

It’s hard to say how many search queries Google handles each day – estimates range from 235 million to as many as 3 billion. Out of all of those, searches related to music and entertainment must be a few million at the least. Imagine searching for a certain song on Google, where results would include the song’s lyrics, links to related songs and artists based on past searches, information on the artist, and a link to download or stream the song directly – all in one place. Google’s search capabilities can make this a reality.  Users would know where to turn for every bit of information they need, all in one place. Google certainly has an edge to take the music listening and search experience to a new level.

Cloud Computing

Apple has direct downloads covered, while Pandora has found success with streaming audio. Google’s commitment to cloud computing could help bring these two worlds together, and give users an incentive to take advantage of the service. Google Music would provide users access to their music on any computer, anywhere in the world. For users prone to computer problems, or who just want to protect their music, a cloud-based service would allow the perfect solution. Cloud computing is where Google would have its biggest competitive advantage, and should use it as the service’s biggest selling point.

While Google Music would definitely be in competition with iTunes, its ties to search and cloud computing would make Google Music truly unique, allowing the search giant to really create and grow its own distinct service. If Google can make its music catalog as large as those of its competitors and offer the product at a fair price, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be successful. Google’s competitive advantages will help the service take off from the start, and keep it growing from there.