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'Google Audio' Launch Imminent: Report

Google's music service, which would compete with Apples iTunes, may be just around the corner.



) --



is about to launch a music service, according to the


Web site, a move that would intensify the search giant's burgeoning rivalry with




Citing multiple sources, TechCrunch says that the search giant has spent the last several weeks securing content from major record labels. One source said that the new service has been dubbed Google Audio.

The technology news site said that the service will differ from Google China's music download service and will be available at least within the U.S. At this stage, however, it is not clear whether the new offering is a download or streaming service, according to TechCrunch.

A move into digital music would represent a clear challenge to Apple's


empire and would also be in keeping with Google's attempts to expand beyond its traditional search business. The Internet giant, for example, is reportedly

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into the smartphone market with its own Android phone.

There certainly have been signs that the Internet leviathan is

gearing up

for an Apple battle. In August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt

stepped down

from the Apple board, highlighting the increasing


between the two tech giants.

Google has thrown its weight behind its




operating systems, significantly altering the dynamic between the two companies. In addition to the Android smartphone OS, Google will aim its Chrome offering at the low end of the PC market when it launches next year.

With increasing U.S. Government


of Silicon Valley, there was also speculation that Schmidt's departure was an attempt to avoid additional antitrust attention from regulators. Earlier this month Google confirmed that Apple director Arthur Levinson had


from its board, averting a potential showdown with the Federal Trade Commission.

Google, which competes with



, is also said to be planning its entry into the netbook market, with its first offerings available in summer 2010.

Earlier this week Google also


its "Gone Google" advertising campaign, to attract customers to its online office software, and recently posted


third-quarter results.

Google has not yet responded to


's request for comment on this story. The company's shares dipped $1.92, or 0.35%, to $549.8 in pre-market trading.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York