Google Inc made a foray into the online music market yesterday, a belated entry almost a decade behind Apple Inc the largest seller of songs on the web, analysts said.
The service, launched at a Google event in Los Angeles, allows for storage and streaming of as many as 20,000 songs online and listening to tracks on multiple devices.
The company has aligned with 1,000 record labels including Vivendi SA (VIV)'s Universal Music Group, letting it offer a total of 13 million songs. Apple opened its iTunes store in 2003.
Google's new challenge to Apple intensifies the rivalry between the two companies, already competing for smartphone users and mobile-advertising customers.
The internet- search giant also faces growing competition from Amazon.com Inc which has upgraded its music-download and storage service, and Spotify Ltd, whose partnership with Facebook Inc increased US membership this year.
According to analysts, Google was entering the market rather late in the day, where large and established players had already entrenched themselves. They say the market could be said to be saturated.