Google Music Store ‘Close’ According to Google SVP

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Rumors of Google opening its own online music store have been floating around for quite some time, especially after the company launched its own cloud music service earlier this year. According to Google’s SVP of Mobile, Andrew Rubin, however, the service may appear sooner than many thought.

The New York Times reported this weekend that the company was in final negotiations with the major U.S. record labels for the service, with a Business Insider followup quoting an anonymous indie music label source as suggesting a Q4 2011 launch. Google had officially declined comment for both of these stories, but on stage at the AsiaD conference in Hong Kong, Rubin told the audience “I think we’re close” to launch.

(MORE: Google Quietly Drops Elegant Google Music Web App)

Rubin also suggested that the store, when it finally arrives, won’t just be another iTunes, saying that it “will have a little twist – it will have a little Google in it. It won’t just be selling 99 cent tracks” (“Just”? Is that confirmation of the pricepoint, perhaps?). The delay in launching, he said, was because record labels don’t quite understand what Google is, these days:

Google is in the very very early phases of adding consumer products to our portfolio. The media industry didn’t see us as that. They saw us a search company.

With only EMI reportedly close to signing onto the service, it’s likely some of that reticence remains—we’ll see how convincing Google can be over the next few months.

MORE: Will ‘PROTECT IP’ Act Stop Piracy or Doom Online Innovation?

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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