Android Market was the place that the majority of Android phone owners went to for downloading and installing new apps and games on their phone. The market offered free and commercial offerings side-by-side, but no music or ebook offerings whatsoever.
Google itself had two issues with that Android Market concept. First that the company’s book and music services where not integrated into the market. Apple’s iTunes for instance is a one stop destination for all iOS users to get games, apps, ebooks and media on the platform. Google Android owners on the other hand had to visit Android Market for games and apps, Google Music for music, and Google Books for books. The fragmentation of businesses for Android users has been identified by Google as one of the core reasons for the stark revenue contrast when compared to Apple’s platform.
The second issue was profitability. Techcrunch for instance reported in December 2011 that Android app developers were only making 27% of what iOS app developers were making. This was problematic as game and app developers would obviously favor iOS development for commercial projects because of this, and because Google did not make as much money as Apple because of the sheer volume of sales.
As a consequence, Google yesterday started to roll out Google Play, a re-branded Android Market with Google Books, Movies and Google Music integration. Google Music and Android Market are already redirecting to play.google.com. Users who visit Google Books see a link prominently displayed on the start page of the service that is linking to Google Play as well.
The store still appears to be fragmented, as you only find game and apps offerings listed on the store front, with no direct links to music, book or movie offerings in the store. For now, it appears as if you can only open those pages on Google Play if you know the store addresses, or if you open the old pages to get redirected to the new store. Here are the links for your convenience:
The movie, music and book listings are only available in select countries. When you open Google Play from an unsupported country, you only get the apps and games listings on the site, and not the movie, music and ebook offers. Below are two versions of the Google Front store front, first one from an unsupported country, and the second from a supported country (U.S.).
No word yet when and if the missing services will be made available to Android users who open the store from unsupported countries. For them, nothing at all has changed.
Have you visited Google Play yet? If so, what’s your impression of the service?