Google+ may be linked to new online music store, report says

Move would likely be part of Larry Page plan to integrate Google+ and all Google services

Google CEO Larry Page may be making good on his promise to begin integrating Google+ throughout all of Google's services.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the anticipated Google online music store will be closely linked to the company's four-month-old social network.

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that users of the new music store would be able to recommend songs to friends on Google+ and that those friends would be able to give the songs a free listen. They could then buy and download the songs as MP3 files.

The report said Google's online music store will likely be launched within a few weeks.

"If you could buy music right from Google, that would be cool," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research.

"That would probably drive song sales for Google. For Google+, it gives me yet another look into what my community is doing. And it's good for advertisers," he added.

Earlier this month, Google CEO Larry Page said he expects that Google+ will be "transforming" the company and all of its services.

Analysts were quick to say that Google+ could be linked to various Google services and pieces of the social network, like Circles or messaging, could be woven into services like Google Maps or Google Docs.

Just last week, Vic Gundotra, a Google engineering senior vice president, said Google+ will soon be integrated with the Google Apps cloud-based office suite.

Much like Spotify lets users automatically alert Facebook friends to the songs they're listening to, Google+ could do the same with the company's own music store, observers noted.

"So I'm on Google+ and I see you there," said Kerravala. "You're listening to some new Lady Gaga song and it prompts me to go buy it. It's all integrated. Instead of having to go to Facebook, iTunes and Hotmail, you can live your life in Google."

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Reserach, said he wouldn't expect a Google music store-Google+ integration to be a big boon for either service.

"It can't hurt so I don't see it as a big deal," said Gottheil. "When Apple introduced Ping, I thought there was real potential for social networking about music, but Ping didn't seem to have much impact. I just don't see this going anywhere."

Last week, reports surfaced that Google could launch a music service despite not yet having the rights to sell songs from some of the world's biggest record labels, like Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

The new store would be linked directly to Google Music Beta , a cloud-based service that enables users to store music and then stream it to their mobile devices or PCs. When Google Music Beta was launched last May, it was widely speculated that an online music store would be next in line.

An online music store would be a direct challenge to Apple's enormously popular iTunes store, as well as to Amazon.com's Cloud Player, another service in the cloud. Since iTunes is far more entrenched in the marketplace, Amazon Cloud Player could be far more vulnerable to Google's attack.

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 sgaudin@computerworld.com .

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This story, "Google+ may be linked to new online music store, report says" was originally published by Computerworld.

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