Google, Facebook to offer music sales

By Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service |  Internet

Facebook plans to let users buy music and other virtual products on its Web site, the company said Wednesday, expanding its sources of revenue as the company seeks to turn its huge popularity into fiscal profit.

Separately, Google will let users sample and buy songs directly from its search results page with a service it plans to announce next week, according to reports. The move comes as Google looks to hold its dominance against Bing, which has stolen around 9 percent of the U.S. online search market since its launch earlier this year, according to Internet monitoring companies.

Songs and official sports icons are among the new virtual gifts Facebook will add to its store, the company said on its blog. Users in the U.S. will be able to pay US$0.10 to send friends a song that can only be listened to online, or $0.90 to send a copy that can be downloaded and transferred, the company said.

The service, powered by music streaming site Lala.com, will be available by the end of this week, a Lala representative said in an e-mail.

Google will let users stream songs from Lala and iLike.com, which is owned by MySpace, according to a report in the The Wall Street Journal. A Lala link will let users stream a full song once for free and pay about $1 to download a copy, the report said.

Google already has an ad-supported music search service, offered only in China, that lets users stream and download songs for free. A Google executive earlier this year said the company had started work on applying the model in other countries.

Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Lala declined to comment on any deal with Google.

Google's rivalry with Bing was visible as both countries announced search deals with Twitter on Wednesday. Google said it would launch a search service for Twitter messages just hours after Microsoft announced a similar deal for Bing.

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