Google to Join Bing in Music Download Business


Google (GOOG) apparently envies the program that Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing has set up to market music downloads. The Internet search leader plans to offer its own service by year-end, according to Reuters. Microsoft's system works with its troubled Zune multimedia player. Google's will probably work with devices running its widely used Android mobile operating system.

According to Microsoft, 10% of all Internet search queries are entertainment-related, with music lyrics alone accounting for 70% of those searches.

Google's share of the search business is so much larger than Bing's that it will have a natural advantage in terms of gaining market share for content downloads.

Buy Now -- From Google

Google's plan raises two issues. The first is "what is a search engine?" Until recently, search has been based on bringing back neutral results. Search companies don't market products within their own results except for the text ads that run alongside them. Nor has Google marketed products of its own, but that may change with its buyout of travel data engine ITA Software.

The second concerns how much Google's plans will challenge Apple's (AAPL) iTunes store, which dominates the digital music download business. The software and content Apple markets isn't just a way to make money. It also tethers owners of iPods, iPhones and iPads to the Apple ecosystem of offering applications and entertainment for its hardware.

Google may be aiming for a strategy that more closely ties its search engine to its marketing of Android.