Move over Amazon and Apple? If Google has their way with their latest service, Google Play, the two aforementioned major players in online content and applications could feel some competition. Of course, that was said about Google+, and how many of you actually use that service? Nevertheless, Google keeps on trying to break into the paid content and application marketplace, and their latest attempt is Google Play.
Savvy Gmail, Calendar, and Google+ users should have noticed the new “Play” link to the right of the Maps on Google navigation bar at the top browser window. Click on the link and you’re directed to the Google Play home page, where users can choose between several genres of content, including music, books, movies, and Android apps. You can even buy the new Angry Birds Space game (which we previewed here). After spending a little time browsing through the various genres, it’s pretty clear what Google Play is trying to emulate. Any guesses? OK, it’s the iTunes Store.
As you can see from both the content offered as well as the layout, the Google Play marketplace is definitely trying to become the Android version of the iTunes Store, which surprisingly doesn’t already exist. Though after a quick pause of thought, perhaps it’s not that surprising a centralized, mobile-free Android marketplace was missing from the technology landscape until Google Play. Unlike Apple’s iTunes Store, where everything is streamlined due to only Apple products working with it (at least for portable usage), there are dozens of Android devices made by a slew of varying manufacturers, all of whom are more focused on building smartphones and tablets than worrying about content. And to be honest, the mobile Android Marketplace has worked pretty well for the tens of millions of happy Android customers.
But in order to gain a better share of the market – both mobile and non-mobile – Google had to deliver a product that could reach non-Android users. Keeping in line with Google’s web-based applications, Google Play is essentially an “in the cloud” version of iTunes and Amazon Prime combined into one. This way, Android users can keep on downloading the coolest apps right to their devices (and make searching for apps a heck of a lot easier than on a mobile device), while Android and non-Android users alike can check out the latest music, movie, and book downloads.
Google has attempted in the past to enter into markets where it didn’t lead in innovation, and so far their results have been quite sub par (social media and Google+, anyone?). But the Google+ example might be unique, because social media and its idiosyncrasies is considerably more tricky than, say, starting up a standard marketplace for content. So unlike Google+, I think Google Play could really cause some headaches for Apple (at least in terms of non-music content) and especially Amazon.
Of course, if Google Play fails, at least they can say its logo was way cooler than any other Google services.