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China: Local Companies Start Smartphone War Against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

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Sotheby's and CNOOC also make the news.

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Google: Three and a half years after launching its China-only music service, Google is shutting it down, the company announced in a blog post. The service, available at google.cn/music, will be up till October 19 for users to save their playlists, but all music streaming and downloading capabilities were suspended today.

In the blog post (in Chinese), Yang Wenluo, Google China's engineering research general manager, writes: "The impact of this product was not as high as we expected, so we decided to divert our resources to other products," according to Reuters

The world's leading search engine had started its Google Music Search in China in March 2009 together with a local partner and had set its sights on competing with Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), which then was known for offering links to illegal mp3 downloads.

When Google had to move its Chinese site to Hong Kong over its refusal to comply to China's censorship laws in 2010, the company's share of the China search market took a sharp hit, which also affected the popularity of its music service. Meanwhile, Chinese users can now flock to Baidu, which has started a licensed music search called Baidu Ting.

Sotheby's (NYSE:BID): Auction house Sotheby's has announced plans to open its first-ever international auction house in China. The company is spending $1.2 million to acquire an 80% stake in a 10-year joint venture with state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group. The venture, to be called Sotheby's (Beijing) Auction, now awaits regulatory approval.

"China and its growing class of collectors has been the single most attractive growth market for the company," Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby's Asia, noted in a press release. Indeed, China's art market has exploded in recent years, and in 2011, China was the largest art market in the world for a second consecutive year, participating in 41% of worldwide art sales.

Twitter: @sterlingwong
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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