Google Inc plans to enter the online music market in China for the first time, as it steps up its battle with local incumbent Baidu.com Inc, media reported on Thursday. Google is expected to announce a joint venture with Top100.cn, to allow users to listen to and download licensed music files for free, major portal Sina.com said, citing local newspaper reports based on sources close to the U.S. firm.
The joint venture expects to generate revenue through online advertisements on the music search pages, Sina added.
A spokeswoman for Google in China said she did not comment on rumours or speculation. Top 100 was set up with initial capital of 20 million yuan ($2.78 million) by Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, Yao's agent Zhang Mingji, and industry professional Ge Chen, Sina said.
Chinese Internet firms such as Baidu have built up their popularity by providing search services for and access to music files, or mp3s, many of which are pirated. This has drawn the ire of international music industry heavyweights.