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Google Music takes on Apple iTunes, Amazon

Sharon Gaudin | May 10, 2011
Cloud-based music service may be the cornerstone of a Google social network.

Music wasn't the only entertainment genre that Google touched on Tuesday.

The company also announced that Android Market will now offer full-length movies starting at $1.99 apiece -- though popular films might cost more.

Google's music announcement -- and, to a lesser extent, its movie announcement -- may fuel speculation that the company is focused on building a social networking platform to compete against Facebook.

Industry analysts have long speculated that Google is developing a social network, and that music, gaming and movies could play a big role in it.

Google's music service isn't the social platform that the industry has been anticipating. However, it could be a building block for one.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said music could be a tough pillar on which to build a social network. Even Apple, despite having a strong base with its iTunes store, hasn't made huge waves with Ping, its music-based social network.

"A cloud-based music service is potentially very strong for Android, for advertising, for general stickiness," Gottheil said. "But it's more a shot at Apple than at FaceBook."

However, Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, disagreed, noting that music, gaming and movies could be part of a Google social network.

"Certainly, this could be social because you could share what you're listening to with all your friends," said Rob Enderle. "This certainly could be used as a first step to Google starting a social network."


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