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Google ready to step up Apple war with music download store

It's Apple in the red corner and Google in the blue corner, as the companies get ready to step up a battle that already involves mobiles but should soon be over who provides your music

The battleground between Google and Apple is about to get explosive, as reports revealed that Google is in talks over creating its own music download store.

Reuters reports Google is in talks with music labels about creating a download store, as well as a cloud-based music service that would allow mobile users to play songs they don't own wherever they liked. Sources claim Google plans to have the service up by Christmas.

Google and Apple are already battling in areas like mobile phones, where Android devices and the iPhone are fighting it out to win the hearts and minds of smart phone users around the world.

Music would be a new area for Google, while Apple has a big head start with the popularity of iTunes, which currently accounts for the majority of legal download music sales online.

But it seems music labels are getting very excited about the prospect of something finally challenging Apple and tapping into the profits that could be made from Android phones. Apple's control over music pricing and formats has also been of some concern.

"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 the Android mobile platform," an anonymous label executive told Reuters. "What you'll have is a very powerful player in the market. That's good for the music business."

It could also lead the way to Google creating a Spotify-style, cloud-based music streaming service for Android users. 

Apple hasn't launched its own music-streaming service yet, but it is expected to following its purchase of streaming service Lala last year. Google's movement into this area could force Apple to speed up its plans.

"If they get it right it will hasten the transition by consumers from music you have to own to music you need ubiquitous access to," Reuters quoted Ted Cohen, a former EMI executive, as saying.

The tensions between Google and Apple flared up during and after its recent iPod touch, nano and shuffle announcement. At the event Steve Jobs queried Google stats saying it was activating 200,000 Android devices a day.

"We think some of our friends are counting upgrades in their numbers," Jobs said, an obvious barb at Google.

Google took the bait, replying, "The Android activation numbers do not include upgrades and are, in fact, only a portion of the Android devices in the market, since we only include devices that have Google services."

In the end, this fight should mean more services and benefits for you, so we're eager for this ruck to continue. What do you think?