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Google bins its free music service in China

Couldn't gain much interest even giving the stuff away

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Google is closing its free, legal music offering in China – signalling another retreat from the worlds’ biggest internet market. Google didn’t offer much of a case for closing the service, beyond admitting it wasn’t very popular.

“We [have] decided to close the music search service in China, turning our focus towards more influential products,” Dr Boon-Lock Yeo, Senior Engineering Director at Google China writes on the company’s China blog. Ed Peto on his Outdustry – the first to cover the story – wonders if the special labels deals were about to expire.

Google launched the free download service, with special dispensation from the labels, because of the popularity of Baidu, a Chinese company in which Google once had an equity stake. The NASDAQ-listed Chinese internet company made use of a sophisticated network of mysterious domains hosting MP3 files, to which it deep-linked, and which ensured pirate music always reached the punter. On the back of this phenomenally successful music service, Baidu built up a formidable lead in traffic.

One in four internet users in the world are in China, which has twice as many users as the next largest nation, the USA.

Google lost its key traffic partner Qihoo ast month, and continues to trail Baidu, picking up a 15 per cent to Baidu’s 76 per cent share. ®

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