Google Play absorbs Android Market and digital content

Summary:Google has rebranded the Android Market and all its digital content services as Google Play, in a move analysts say is intended to regain control of the Android ecosystem

Google has pulled together its Android app, music, movie and e-book services under the umbrella of the new 'Google Play' brand.

Google Play

Google has rebranded the Android Market and all its digital content services as Google Play. Screenshot: Jon Yeomans

The move was announced on Tuesday. UK users will get Google Play apps, movies and e-books, but the music service remains US-only — as it did before under the Google Music name.

"Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play. On your Android phone or tablet, we'll be upgrading the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app over the coming days," Google digital content chief Jamie Rosenberg said in a blog post.

Although this functionality is not available in the UK yet, Rosenberg noted that Google customers would each be able to use the Google Play cloud to store as many as 20,000 songs that they already own.

In an FAQ (link may not work for UK readers), Google stressed that customers would still be able to access the content they had bought on the earlier services through Google Play. The document noted that the move was intended to make Android "even more compelling" as a mobile platform, and also to make it simpler for Google's customers to buy digital content across platforms.

"On the web, you can browse and buy books, movies and music," the FAQ read. "You can read books on the Google Play web reader, listen to music on your computer or watch movies online. Your digital content is all stored in the cloud, so you can access from anywhere using your Google Account."

The FAQ also noted that Google has "created ways to experience... music and books on other platforms such as the Google Books iOS app".

Content is proving to be the deciding factor in the tablet wars, where Apple continues to dominate with its iTunes-equipped iPad line. Statistics released by mobile advertising company JumpTap on Tuesday suggested that, in the US at least, Amazon's Kindle Fire had taken second place in the tablet market, with other Android-based devices trailing behind.

Android has become a brand in its own right, so Google might just be making sure it will not get bigger than Google itself.

– Carolina Milanesi, Gartner

The Kindle Fire uses a forked and rebranded version of Android, and mainly acts as a portal to Amazon's vast content catalogue.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that the biggest impact of the shift to Google Play would be to "make sure consumers know who owns the [Android] ecosystem".

"To some extent [it is] driven by the fact that Android has become a brand in its own right, so Google might just be making sure it will not get bigger than Google itself," Milanesi said.

However, the analyst also pointed out that Google would have to "step up its game and make the store a pleasant experience, otherwise consumers will link the negative experience straight to the mothership".

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Topics: Mobility, Developer


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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