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Google closes China music site

By Wang Xinyuan (Global Times)

08:25, September 24, 2012

The world's No.1 Internet search engine Google Inc said over the weekend that it will close its China-only music search service two years after the company closed its search engine in the Chinese mainland, as it has been losing ground to Chinese search service providers.

As of Sunday, a message pops up when users try searches on the original Web page of Google Music, saying that "the service has been shut down, and users are reminded to log in, download and save the playlist before October 19."

Google launched the music search service in March 2009 working with Chinese music website top100.cn to provide free and legal music in China.

"The popularity of this product turned out to be lower than we expected, therefore we decided to transfer resources to other products," Boon-Lock Yeo, head of Google's engineering and research teams in China, announced on Google's company blog Friday.

Google has been losing its share of the highly competitive search engine market in China, Yan Xiaojia, an Internet analyst with Beijing-based Analysys Consulting, told the Global Times Sunday.

Google currently holds 15 percent of the search engine market in China, sliding from almost 30 percent two years ago, and its rank dropped from No.2 after Baidu to the current No.4 with other Chinese search service providers such as Easou and Tencent's soso.com catching up, Yan said.

Apple Inc recently replaced Google's Map service with a local Chinese map service provider in its latest iOS 6 operating system, further hurting Google's search business in China, Yan said.

The decreasing number of users of Google search led to a slide in advertising revenues, said You Tianyu, an analyst with iResearch Consulting. "The copyright of the music is very costly and needs support from advertising revenues."

As of June this year, a total of 6 billion users had accessed top100.cn, Google Music's sole partner that provides legal music, which received 400 million yuan ($63 million) in advertising revenues in total, Chen Ge, founder and CEO of top100.cn, wrote on his Weibo Friday.

"However, since Google pulled out of the mainland in 2010, the advertising sales of Google Music almost came to a halt," Chen said.

His firm received $8.91 million investment from Google.

Google China redirected search users in the mainland to servers in Hong Kong in a dispute over censored search results in March 2010. Since then, many users have complained about difficulties in getting access to its search engine Web page from time to time.

Despite a falling market share in China, Google has competitive advantages in English content search, which it should maintain, Yan said.

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