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Google launches music store to rival iTunes

The company will sell 13million tracks over its Android store, Google announced on the same day as it relaunched its Gmail iPhone app.

The Google Music service was launched in LA yesterday
The Google Music service was launched in LA yesterday
Image: Jae C. Hong/AP/Press Association Images

GOOGLE UNVEILED ITS much-anticipated digital music store yesterday, opening a new front in its battle with Apple to provide services over mobile devices.

For the first time, Google will sell songs on the Android Market, its online store for apps, movies and books. The service is available over the next few days to customers in the US, but Google aims to roll it out eventually to some 200 million Android users globally.

Some songs are free, while others were priced at 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29 — the same prices as on Apple’s iTunes. Artists whose work is available right away include Adele, Jay-Z and Pearl Jam. The store will feature dozens of free tracks from artists like Coldplay, Rolling Stones and Busta Rhymes.

Google is offering 13 million tracks for sale, from three of the four major recording companies — Vivendi SA’s Universal Music, EMI Group Ltd. and Sony Music Entertainment — and a host of independent labels. Warner Music Group was the major recording company left out. Warner spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.

Google is allowing sharing of purchased songs over its social network, Google Plus. Friends will be able to listen to one another’s songs once for free.

Google’s director of digital content for Android, Jamie Rosenberg, took a dig at Apple’s online song storage service, iTunes Match, which costs US$25 a year. Google’s cloud storage service is free for up to 20,000 songs.

“Other cloud music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t,” he said.

In another development, the company has also relaunched its Gmail app for iPhone and iPad.

The app was initially released two weeks ago, but immediately withdrawn after users spotted a bug. In a blog post, Google said it had fixed various issues for the new release.

According to the company, the app allows users quick access to their Gmail address books, easy uploading of photos, and highly developed search functions.

The company said it was “just getting started” with the iOS app, and would be introducing a number of new features in the near future.

- Additional reporting from AP

Read more: Gmail withdraws app from Apple store – just hours after launching>

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Michael Freeman

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