Google is reported to be in the process of building an online music store to rival Apple and Amazon's popular services.
However, Google has yet to firm up deals with the biggest record labels, which could mean starting the company at a disadvantage.
Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that Google could launch the service without the rights to sell songs from some of the biggest record labels, like Sony Music and Warner Music Group. According to the Journal , which sites unnamed sources, only EMI Group, a smaller player in the record label world, is close to finalizing a deal with Google.
Citing unnamed music executives, the Times reported that Google is looking to launch the online music store in the next several weeks.
Google has not responded to a request for comment.
The expected service would be linked to Music Beta by Google , a service launched last May designed to enable people to store music in the cloud and then stream it to different devices, such as tablets, smartphones and PCs.
When Google Music Beta was unveiled, the service didn't have a repository of music that people could choose from to buy and download. At this point, it's still set up so that users can upload their own music to be stored and sorted into various playlists.
When Google's Music Beta was unveiled, Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, noted he expected that an online music store should quickly follow the initial release. .
"For Google, it's yet another service that can deliver eyeballs to Google pages and advertisers," said Olds in a previous interview. "It's not a music store yet, but can that be far behind? And if it does become a full-fledged music and media store, it has the potential to break Apple 's hammerlock on content providers."
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said he can't see a Google music store being much of a threat to Apple's popular iTunes store , although it could be a great addition to devices running Google's Android mobile operating system.
"It's a completeness play, not an attempt to dethrone Apple or Amazon," he added. "It helps fill out the Android offering. It gives Android an answer to iTunes."
An online music store from Google also would be a direct attack on Amazon.com, which offers the Amazon Cloud Player, a cloud-based service that was launched this past spring. Since Cloud Player also is new to the music business, a Google service could be a bigger threat to Amazon.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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