Google has today rebranded the Android Market as Google Play. A single service that provides Android users with access to apps, video, music, books and games, Google Play is clearly intended to provide better competition to Apple’s one-stop-shop, iTunes.
Everything in one store
Until now, Google had a pretty confusing approach to providing content for Android devices. Apps and movies were in the Android Market but books and music were available from separate, seemingly unconnected websites. Combining everything into a single marketplace clearly makes sense both from a user standpoint and strategically for Google.
The main remaining difference between Google’s and Apple’s approach is the absence of a downloadable Windows or Mac client for Google Play: everything’s done in the browser. So as long as you have an internet connection, you can enjoy your movies, books and music anywhere.
Sharing is caring
Google Play also promises full integration with the Google+ social service which, while not really a competitor for Facebook, is certainly streets ahead of Apple’s attempts in the social sphere. Right now, I can share opinions about apps just like I could on the old Market, and there’s an option to share YouTube videos matching songs from the music area. You can also let friends enjoy a free listen of songs you’ve purchased. I expect to see these options improved and multiplied pretty soon.
A unified Google experience for Android
So does this change reflect yet another turn in the ratcheting-up of Google’s control of Android? The short answer is: yes. It looks to me like Google is finally starting to understand the importance of having a unified experience on mobile devices. It went through a similar process when it unified Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Plus accounts a while back. But does this mean the days of Android as a brand are numbered? I reckon this could well be the case, and I think it’d be a good move for Google.