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Google is apparently in talks with record labels to populate its upcoming music store and streaming service by Christmas, sources familiar with the matter tell Reuters.

That Google is working on an iTunes competitor is no big surprise — we saw vague glimpses of it during some demonstrations at its I/O conference in May. What is surprising is that Google is trying to get it up and running by the end of the year, even though it reportedly hasn’t signed any deals with record labels.

Google vice president of engineering Andy Rubin, who notably oversees the development of its Android mobile operating system, is spearheading discussions with record labels, the sources say.

It also appears that the labels are excited about having a worthy competitor to Apple and the seemingly unstoppable iTunes. “Finally here’s an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform,” said one record label executive. “What you’ll have is a very powerful player in the market that’s good for the music business.”

If the industry excitement is genuine, Google may be able to have the service ready by the end of the year. More realistically, I would expect it in early 2011.

At this point, Google may be farther along than Apple in readying a streaming music service. Apple bought the streaming music start Lala earlier this year and shuttered it a few months ago. Many expected it would announce a streaming music service at its media event this week, but obviously that didn’t happen.

Photo: Darwin Alexito


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