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Google music partnership could compete with Apple's iTunes [u]

A new report suggests Google will continue to expand into Apple's business territories, with a new music service partnership between the search giant and two established music providers rumored to have an "imminent" launch.

Update: CNet has provided more information on what is for now known as the "One Box for music." It is said to be a partnership between Google, Lala and iLike. It will be a part of Google Search, and will allow users to quickly discover song previews, artist info, pictures, video and more.

While all four record companies are said to be a part of the new deal, Google itself would not be selling the music. That would allegedly go through links to sites like iLike and Lala. "One Box" is the phrase Google uses to describe its search fields for video, weather, stock information and more.

While the partnership allegedly does not include any sort of desktop client, such a search feature could potentially cut into iTunes sales, as Apple currently controls the lion's share of the digital music download market.

It was reported that Google's interest is attracting music fans looking for information about artists. Compensation for record labels, however, would likely come from the Lala and iLike services.

Earlier Wednesday, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch said that Google has secured content rights from major music labels over the past several weeks in anticipation of the launch of a coming service, which one source referred to as "Google Audio." Details at this point are scarce, but the new product is said to be planned for "at least" U.S. users.

"We're still gathering details, but our understanding is the service will be very different to the Google China music download service that they launched in 2008," the report said. "That service, which is only available in China, allows users to search for music and download it for free."

In August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from the Apple Board of Directors, where he served since 2006. The move was necessary, both Schmidt and Apple said, as Google continues to step into the core businesses of Apple with the Android mobile operating system, Chrome desktop OS, and more. If true, Google Audio would represent yet another example of the company taking on Apple, this time in the iTunes realm.

Earlier this month, Dr. Arthur Levinson resigned from the Google Board of Directors. The former CEO of Genentech remains on Apple's own board.

Both moves were in response to an ongoing investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which was looking into the board connections for anticompetitive concerns. The commission has said since both resignations that it is satisfied with the decisions.

Both Google and Apple have also been involved in a spat over the Google Voice application, which has not been accepted into the iPhone App Store. Though it has appeared to outsiders that tension between the two technology giants has been growing, Schmidt recently denied that assumption, stating "We love the iPhone."