updated 04:10 pm EDT, Mon August 13, 2007
gBox, Universal and Google
An as-yet unlaunched music site is aligning itself in a partnership designed to undermine the likes of Apple's iTunes Store, reports say. Called gBox, the startup is partnering itself with Universal Music, which has omitted Apple from the group of companies in its trial of DRM-free music. gBox will likewise offer DRM-free tracks from Universal, priced at 99 cents, the same cost as DRM-encoded tracks at the iTunes Store. Apple sells its DRM-free songs at an average price of $1.29.
Universal in turn has arranged a special deal with Google, paying for an advertising campaign which will refer potential customers to gBox. The ads will show up in association with Google searches related to Universal artists and albums, but should not override the results themselves.
gBox will launch on August 21st, the beginning of Universal's DRM-free trial period, which is set to end on January 31st except where the label has signed new agreements. Other companies participating in the trial include Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and RealNetworks.