Saturday, February 9, 2008

GOOGLE AIMS TO CRACK CHINA WITH MUSIC PUSH

Two years after Google Inc. began a big push in China, Baidu.com Inc. continues to dominate the country's Internet search market, thanks in significant part to a controversial and legally risky offering: searches for free, unlicensed music downloads.

Now, Google is preparing a counterstrike, according to people close to the situation. The U.S. search giant is in the late planning stages of a joint venture with a Chinese online music company that would permit it to provide free -- licensed -- music downloads in China.

The service, which is likely to offer access to tunes from three global music companies as well as dozens of smaller players, could start in the next several weeks barring any last-minute hiccups. The music pact marks a turning point in Google's battle with Baidu to gain dominance in an Internet market that is soon expected to surpass the U.S. this year in number of users.

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