Version 3.0 of Nutsie, a mobile application soon coming to Android phones, is more than an anagram for iTunes.
As I watched Melodeo engineering Vice President Bob Wise demonstrate the new Nutsie on a Motorola Droid at the company's Seattle office on Monday, I had to wonder why Google doesn't have its own Nutsie-like app.
The basic idea behind the current version of Nutsie is simple: you have a bunch of songs stored in iTunes on your computer that you'd like on your phone, but you don't want to buy an Apple iPhone (perhaps because of AT&T). For $19.95, you can download the Nutsie app for phones running Google's Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and various other mobile platforms, then grab the Nutsie uploader for your computer, and it will automatically sync your iTunes library to your mobile phone. You never need to plug your phone into your computer, and any changes to iTunes are automatically synced to the cloud and then to your phone.
Nutsie also recommends other songs based on the contents of your library, then integrates those songs into your iTunes playlists. (This function forms the basis of Effin Genius, an iPhone app that creates playlists based on your library; Melodeo basically stripped the Serendipity feature out of Nutsie and made it into an iPhone app.)
There has been one big drawback to Nutsie: it required you to use playlists, and you couldn't navigate to single songs, as you could do with iTunes on an iPhone. It was more like Internet radio than a true iTunes clone. This all changes with the new version of Nutsie, which is slated to come out for Android phones this quarter.
Whereas past versions uploaded only data about songs, then streamed copies of those songs from Nutsie's servers, the forthcoming version is more like a digital storage locker: it will let users upload their entire iTunes library to Nutsie's servers, then access that content from their Android phone. The playback experience will be almost exactly the same as if they were using an iPhone. Nutsie will also cache songs to the device, so once users have played a particular song, they won't need to have an active Internet connection to play it again.
So why hasn't Google made something like Nutsie an Android standard? Android's music sync is one of its worst features--users have to mount the device as a hard drive before they can transfer files to it--and the onboard storage for the Nexus One is a paltry 4GB (expandable, but still).
If any company has embraced the cloud, it's Google. So why not make local storage obsolete? Untether users' music libraries from their PCs and stream them from the cloud instead. It would make sense for users and would provide a treasure trove of information about users--their musical tastes--to help Google target advertisements even more effectively.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. After all, Google has already added playable music streams to its search results, and Apple reportedly bought Lala in part to keep it out of Google's hands. If it agrees, the question is, will Google build it or buy it?
Correction, 4:48 p.m. PST: This post mischaracterized how the upcoming version of Nutsie will function. It will upload songs directly from users' computer-based iTunes libraries to Nutsie's servers, then allow users to access those songs from their phones.