Google Music launch appears imminent

google musicGoogle’s iTunes competitor, Google Music, may soon be ready for its public debut, reports CNet. The company’s employees have reportedly begun in-house testing of the service, a sure sign that a new product is nearly ready to launch.

The test build of the Google Music app, which is said to stream users’ music libraries that are stored on Google servers, first leaked earlier this month after user “WhiteWindows” claimed on the XDA Developers forum that he had happened upon the Google Music streaming function after installing Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, which includes a music app, on a rooted HTC EVO 4G. He was able to access the previously locked “Sync Music” feature, which gave him access to the streaming option.

According to “music industry insiders” who spoke with CNet on the condition of anonymity, “WhiteWindows” did indeed discover the Google Music app. But they said that the final version could differ greatly from that build.

Sources say Google had hoped to debut the service at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and technology festival in Austin, Texas. That plan was shelved, however, though the exact reason for that has not yet been revealed.

Google is currently in negotiations with “at least some of the top publishers” as well as with the four largest record labels, sources say. Delays to the launch of Google Music are at least partially due to the complexity of negotiating music rights for a cloud-based service (as opposed to standard song downloading rights).

This report is corroborated by comments made by Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, who mentioned to the Guardian last month that Google had a “music service” in the works. A recent report from Billboard, which named executives rumored to be working on Google Music, adds further evidence that the streaming service is on its way.

Google denied our request to confirm or deny this report, saying only that the company does not “comment on rumour or speculation.” So it’s impossible to verify whether the release of a Google Music streaming service is indeed imminent. That said, past experience tells us that when this amount of chatter percolates in the press around a certain product, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that the company has something up its sleeve. Until we get an actual confirmation from Google, however, make sure to store this one in your “rumor” file.

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