Facebook plans to launch a music download service, as well as allow social networkers to buy other virtual products through its site.

The annoucement comes hot on the heels of rumours that Google is also planning to offer an online music service. However, it is not known whether Google's service will allow web users to download tracks, or simply stream them.

The move comes as Google looks to hold its dominance against Bing, which has stolen around nine percent of the US online search market since its launch earlier this year, according to internet monitoring companies.

Songs and official sports icons are among the new virtual gifts Facebook will add to its store, the company said on its blog. Users in the US will be able to pay $0.10 (6p) to send friends a song that can only be listened to online, or $0.90 (£50p) to send a copy that can be downloaded and transferred, the company said.

The service, powered by music streaming site Lala.com, will be available by the end of this week, a Lala representative said. However, there was no indication whether the service would be available to UK users.

Google will let users stream songs from Lala and iLike.com, which is owned by MySpace, according to a report in the The Wall Street Journal.

Google already has an ad-supported music search service, offered only in China, that lets users stream and download songs for free. A Google executive earlier this year said the company had started work on applying the model in other countries.

Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Lala declined to comment on any deal with Google.

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See also: Microsoft signs Facebook & Twitter search deal