Can Google's Android Market Undercut Apple's iTunes for News?

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Google may boost its Android newsstand - and heat rivalry with Apple's iTunes -- with lower prices for news publishers.Rivalry between Google (GOOG) and Apple (APPL) is heating up. Google is trying to attract news publishers with a plan to charge them less to sell news apps for Android cell phones than the 30% that Apple typically charges for the sale of iTunes apps, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Google, which has talked with companies such as Time Warner's (TWX) Time Inc. division, Conde Nast and Hearst, may also agree to disclose some personal data about app purchasers to the publishers, anonymous sources told the Journal. The three publishers declined to comment on the discussions, the newspaper said. Google confirmed it's in discussions with publishers, but declined to comment on the specifics of any proposals, according to the Journal.

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The move indicates that Google hopes to boost market share for its Android platform by offering the same content that's sold at Apple's iTunes stores. Its Android smartphones still trail the iPhone, but have been growing a strong customer base.

Apple, which introduced the iPhone in 2007 and unveiled its fourth generation in June, shipped 14.1 million of the devices for the quarter ended Sept. 25. All together, it had sold 73.5 million iPhones by the end of last year. Meanwhile, less than 7 million people had Android smartphones last year -- but research firm Gartner in September projected that number would reach more than 250 million in 2014.

Apple, which also declined to comment in the Journal story, may fight back by making it easier for publishers to sell long-term subscriptions -- and offer discounts on these subscriptions -- on iTunes, the Journal reported.

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