Google has partnered with Samsung, the world's largest Android smartphone maker, with a special version of Google Play Music, the two companies announced on Friday. Samsung previously launched its own streaming service, Milk which was subsequently shut down.
The special partnership will also include integrations with Samsung's AI assistant Bixby when it launches, which will work like the Assistant integration on Google Home.
Samsung, a wildly successful hardware maker has long struggled with what role it plays in the software and services world. Samsung has long been dependent on Google for software services, on and off making competing products of its own like Milk and S Health, now Samsung Health (which replicates much of what Google Fit does).
The Bixby integration with is telling, because Samsung seems to be pinning much of its software ambitions to its new digital assistant. Tying Google Play Music to Bixby could be key to its success, and by extension Samsung as a software provider.
The partnership is important for Google, too. Google Play Music will now be the the default music player and service on all new Samsung phones and tablets globally — and Samsung sells a lot of phones. This starts with Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are now available in the U.S., Canada and South Korea. That potentially opens up a whole new audience to Play Music, which is competing with Spotify, Apple Music and Google's own YouTube to name a few.
Defaults are powerful, and being the default player on the biggest Android smartphone maker could be just what Play Music needs to take off. Samsung users will also get special Play Music features as part of the partnership. Samsung users can upload and stream up to 100,000 of their own songs to Play Music for free, double of what non-Samsung Play users are allowed. New Samsung phones and tablets will also come with a free three-month trial of the service, which includes a free trial to YouTube Red.
Samsung's basic Music player app isn't going away; it'll still be on the company's phones (for now), though Play Music will be the default.