updated 10:55 am EST, Thu February 18, 2010
Google may buy Catch to have iTunes cloud rival
Google may be embarking on a company buyout to counter Apple's buyout of Lala, a rumor argues today. The search firm is believed to be considering a buyout of Catch Media, a startup focused on routing e-books and media across multiple devices and services. It has deals with all four major music labels that would let users keep access.
Talks are thought by CNET to be informal, and it's not yet known if the discussions have become more substantial.
The acquisition would be one of the first from Google that could be characterized as a reaction to a similar Apple move. Apple has lately bought out companies that provide functions conspicuously present through Google but missing at Apple. It recently acquired Placebase for producing mapping data, which Google has had for years, and Quattro Wireless to provide an alternative to Google's AdMob for mobile ads.
Rumors have swirled that the Lala acquisition was meant to provide free iTunes streaming as a bonus for those with limited storage. It would register which songs the listener owns and then stream these to an iPhone or other device if a local copy doesn't already exist.
Google hasn't signaled its intent to get into remotely accessed music but was likely hurt by the Lala deal as it no longer guarantees that Lala's samples, streaming and purchasing will be available through Google music searches. iLike, iMeem, Pandora and others are still available.