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Google enters music download market

GOOGLE Inc launched yesterday its free music download service in China as it battles against domestic market leader, whose music service began nine years ago.

China is the first and only country for Google to launch the service worldwide and the firm has no plan to provide the service in other countries, according to Lee Kai-fu, president of Google China.

A total of 140 music publishers, including Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI and Universal Music, have given permission for their music to be downloaded. The service allows users to download 1.1 million songs, from Chinese and foreign artists, provided by, a Chinese music Website co-founded by basketball star Yao Ming and invested by Google China.

"We sense the demand of millions of Chinese Netizens and now we are offering free, high quality and legal downloads," Lee said in a Chinese-language statement.

Google will share advertising revenue with the copyright owners.

In China, the world's biggest Internet market with about 300 million Netizens, homegrown firm Baidu leads the search market as it provides localized products like music search and download and a forum called Tieba, analysts said.

By the end of the third quarter, Baidu has 65.1 percent market share of the domestic search market income, followed by Google's 26.6 percent. In the third quarter, China's online search market revenue was 1.49 billion yuan (US$219.1 million), according to iResearch Inc.

According to Shanghai Daily's test, Google's new service allows users to search for music based on tune, beat or style (similar to Apple's iTunes) while Baidu lacks this function. But Google provides music download only from while Baidu allows users to search music on the Internet, which also attracts complaints on piracy issues.

Baidu, which declined to comment on Google's new move, has already signed with some music publishers to provide users free licensed music.



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