Google's Secret Weapon Against Pandora & Apple

As far as streaming music services go, Google's arrival five months ago hasn't really moved the record needle. There's nothing inherently wrong with Google Play Music All Access, but the premium platform didn't get in the way of Pandora hitting new highs this summer.

The only thing that did deliver a blow to Pandora -- temporarily -- was last month's debut of Apple's iTunes Radio, baked into iOS 7. Apple got the market's attention when it revealed that 11 million users checked it out in its first week on the market.

Google was always going to have an uphill battle here. It charges for its service. Pandora and now iTunes Radio are consumed primarily as free ad-supported offerings. However, just as Spotify has been able to establish itself as a worthy choice for discerning music buffs willing to pay for uninterrupted tunes, Google is hoping to grab a larger slice of this growing pie.

This brings us to Hewlett-Packard's new Chromebook. Made in cahoots with Google, HP's new Chromebook 11 offers many of the slick features and the cloud-based interface that have made Chrome-fueled netbooks a game-changer in an otherwise fading market. Priced at $279, we're looking at a price point well shy of the iPads, Xbox Ones, and PS4s that are angling for the holiday-shopping dollar.

But the one point worth making on HP's new Chromebook is that it comes with a 60-day-free trial of Google Play Music All Access. 

In theory, 60 days is a petty taste test. The service is just $9.99 a month, so it's not as if the $20 value is going to drum up Chromebook sales. In reality, this is really just a $9.99 value. Head out to Google Play's Music hub and you can get a 30-day free trial just because you're you.

Sirius XM Radio knows that two months isn't enough. It typically offers at least three months for used-car buyers -- and six months or more for new car buyers -- to get drivers hooked on its satellite-radio service before shutting them off as freeloaders if they don't pay up. 

But a 60-day-free trial is certainly a substantial enough incentive to get folks to kick the tires. If HP's Chomebook 11 is a hit -- and it's priced aggressively enough to sell briskly in these operating system-agnostic times -- there will be a lot of people checking out the service that seems to have lost its buzz since the battle boiled down to iTunes versus Pandora, with Sirius XM as a peripheral player on the streaming front given its premium on-demand offerings.

Google has a new way to get to your ears, and it's priced to move to the music.

You can still rock in America
With the European debt crisis and slowing growth in China many investors are worried about heady growth going forward, but fear not, because: The Future is Made in America. Domestic manufacturing is poised to once again become the investment driver of the world, and all because of one disruptive technology. You can uncover the three companies that will become the American Steel of tomorrow in The Motley Fool's new free report. Just click here to read more.

The article Google's Secret Weapon Against Pandora & Apple originally appeared on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google, and Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story