Google's Zahavah Levine says Google Music's first store 'will enable users to share their purchased music' [Reuters]

Google has unveiled its new online store in the US, which will allow its Android sofware devices to buy, store and stream MP3 files.

Music companies like EMI, Universal, Sony Music Entertainment and 23 independent labels are on board to provide content to create a library of 13 million songs.

However, Warner Music Group has opted not to take part at this point.

Google's launch is a direct challenge to Apple and its itunes which was launched in 2003. The songs range in price from 69 cents to $1.29 and come without DRM copy-protection.

Google Music will allow the web search leader to do the same by letting consumers access music from various internet-connected devices and easily share tracks with friends.

But analysts said the lack of soundtracks from Warner Music - a major label - will limit the appeal of Google Music.

Mobile efforts

Analysts say selling online music is unlikely to provide much of a lift to Google's revenue, but they say Google needs to be in the market to ensure that its Android-based mobile efforts can match offerings from competitors.

Currently Android is at the top of the rankings in smartphone operating system league, powering about 200 million devices worldwide.

But without a music service, Android-based smartphones and tablets may not be as attractive to consumers seeking a product that offers a seamless media experience.

To help jump-start the new music store, Google said it will offer one free song for consumers to download every day.

Google will also allow consumers to share purchased songs with friends on the Google social network.

The feature will also give users of Google a "free,full-play" of songs purchased by their friends.

Struggling sales

Zahavah Levine, Google's director of content partnerships for Android, said: "Recommendations from friends are the single most important way that people discover music and we think that this feature has the potential to really transform purchasing behaviour."

Even though sales have struggled in recent years, the use of  music has never been more popular on different types of formats like social networks and mobile devices.

Amazon already runs a cloud-based music service, as it launched the new Kindle Fire tablet which may drive further sales from the site.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, unveiled a tab in September through which music services like Spotify and MOG enable Facebook users to share music.

Despite all the competition, analysts say Google Music still has room to manoeuvre.

Source: Agencies