Google Plots Entry Into Online Music Sales

Reports say that the company will challenge iTunes with a download store, as well as a system for accessing one's music library through the web

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Apple may have taken aim at Twitter and Facebook by revealing their new music-based social network Ping at a conference earlier this week, but another competitor may be on the horizon: Google could be launching their own digital music service by year's end, industry sources tell Reuters. Google is considering launching both a music download store and a "song locker service" that would allow users to access their music libraries anywhere, via the internet.

Google hasn't yet locked up any licensing deals with the major labels, but the music industry is reportedly eager for the company to jump into marketplace. Though iTunes can be thanked for at least part of the rise in digital music sales, record labels have long bemoaned Apple's near-monopolization of the market — specifically, how iTunes sets prices for songs. (Apple's closest competitor, the Amazon MP3 store, has only a 12 percent share of the market.) "Finally here's an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform," a label executive told Reuters. "What you'll have is a very powerful player in the market that's good for the music business."

Google's plan has come to light just days after Sony announced their own digital music service, called Music Unlimited.