Back in 2009, Google launched a legal music search engine in China, in partnership with local site Top100. With its free downloads and licences from all four major labels, it was hailed as a big leap forward against piracy, at a time when Chinese search engine Baidu was still under fire for linking to unlicensed music. Three years on, though, Google is shutting its service down.
The Outdustry blog has the scoop, translating the official statement by Google China’s Dr Boon-Lock Yeo. “We decided to close the music search service in China, turning our focus towards more influential products,” wrote Yeo in a blog post. “This product never became as influential as we expected, so we decided to redirect the resources to other products.”
So much for that, eh? Although 2012 is a very different place to 2009 when it comes to digital music in China. Baidu launched its own legal service, Baidu Ting, last year, and remains a much bigger player than Google in China. Meanwhile, Android smartphones from local manufacturers are selling like hot cakes, potentially providing a base for more legal music offerings.
Google’s decision to close its pioneering search service is dispiriting, then, but there are other irons in the fire for the music industry in China.