Goodbye, Android Market. Hello Google Play. As Google gets serious in the competition to dominate the app and content landscape, the search giant is revamping Android Market and will be consolidating its application, music, movie and books under one service called Google Play.
Google is focusing on making entertainment fun, and wants to remove the hassles of getting everything to work, particularly with the need to endlessly sync among devices such as smartphones, home entertainment systems, tablets and desktop computers. With Google Play, Google's content marketplace is turned into a digital entertainment destination where music, movies, books and apps are easily synced across devices.
Google wants to highlight that content is not just for Android devices. Google Play is a marketplace that caters to users on platforms other than Android. "This is really an acknowledgment that these experiences are relevant not just for a mobile environment but across the web," stresses Google director of digital content Jamie Rosenberg.
Google has actually been doing a gradual roll-out of content services, beginning with the Google eBookstore in 2010, YouTube movie rentals in May 2011 and Google Music in November 2011. While content had been available on Android market for some time, the "Android" label seems to have been limiting. With Google Play, these services will be consolidated under one roof. Services will be upgraded to Google Play Movies, Google Play Books and Google Play Music apps.
Meanwhile, Android Market will be renamed the Google Play Store. On Android devices 2.2 (FroYo) and up, Google will be pushing an update that will automatically upgrade Market to the Play Store.
7 Days to Play
As part of Google's launch of its new entertainment hub, a special 7 Days to Play offer will be available in select regions. This will include big discounts for select movies and music albums sold at US$ 0.25, collections of rock, country and hip-hop albums for US$ 3.99 and novels for US$ 2.99. Editors have likewise hand picked their favorite movies and apps, which will retail for US$ 0.99 and US$ 0.49, respectively.
Will Google Play Fair?
One question being raised at this point is whether Google will stick to using its natural search algorithm when displaying results for content, or if Google Play will be prioritized over competitors. For instance, while Amazon and iTunes are currently the dominant players in the book and music businesses, respectively, Google will now be directly competing against both in its consolidated Google Play service.
Google says Play will not get preferential treatment. "Nothing changes the way results of products from Google Play would surface in Google search," says Rosenberg in an interview with Marketing Land.
How About a Google Play Tablet?
Google already has its own "Nexus" smartphone line, produced in partnership with device makers like HTC and Samsung. There are hints that Google might also have a Google Play Tablet in the works, which will compete directly with the likes of the new iPad or even the Amazon Kindle Fire.
The Google Play platform has an advantage over the Apple iPad, since the App Store and iTunes cater exclusively to Apple products. Google Play, meanwhile, offers content to a wider variety of devices. Amazon's platform, meanwhile, supports different platforms aside from its own Kindle, although it does not have a unified marketplace for the different types of content (movies, music, apps, books). Google already has an advantage in terms of the growing popularity of Android smartphones, but the iPad still leads the tablet business. Will a Play tablet be able to upset this trend?