NEW YORK Web search leader Google Inc is planning to boost its presence in China by tying up with a Chinese online music company to provide free music downloads, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The report, quoting people close to the situation, said Google was in the late planning stages of a venture and will likely offer access to tunes from three global music companies as well as dozens of smaller brands.
The service could start in the next several weeks barring any last-minute problems, it said.
The move would come as Google struggles to wrestle market share from Baidu.com Inc, which dominates the Chinese search market and offers music search.
Google representatives were not immediately available for comment.
China's search engine market reached 946.6 million yuan ($131 million) in the fourth quarter -- almost double from a year earlier, according to a research firm.
Baidu.com led the market in the fourth quarter with a 60.1 percent share, said Analysys International, while Google came second with a 25.9 percent share, followed by Yahoo China with 9.6 percent.
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)