The company doesn't collect any referral fees for the traffic--as is the case with several other Google initiatives. For instance, when a user Googles "New York to San Francisco," links to searches on travel sites Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz and Priceline appear--none of which are sponsored. Additionally, the Gmail service refers users to Web pages and news stories that are relevant to the keywords in their e-mails.
Jupiter Research Analyst Gary Stein proposed that the search giant is forgoing the revenue from paid referrals to try to become the first place that users go for any sort of information. "Google wants to be that one box, period, for all searches," he said. "It's definitely a strategic initiative. Why would you circumvent that great bit of inventory? I think it's to remain the very first place you go to for anything online."
Although Google could have likely started its own music service--like competitor Microsoft, which announced this week a deal with MTV to start a download business--the approach that the search giant took puts Google in the position of a middleman, Stein said. "As the primary place to go when you're looking for something, it's going to be Google instead of directly to iTunes," he said. "What's more important is that they remain the single point through which you connect to any content online."