In a move that’s sure to put both Apple and Amazon on notice, Google has announced that it’s replacing the Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore with one service called Google Play.
The genius of Google Play isn’t that you can buy movies, music, books and apps in one place; it’s that everything you buy is stored in the cloud, meaning you can switch devices without ever having to sync anything or losing your place in the middle of a movie or novel.
When you consider Google’s recent forays into the world of hardware — Google TV, Chromebooks, the growing market share of Android smartphones — it makes sense that the company would also want a way to distribute content across all of those platforms. All Google is missing is a serious competitor to the iPad — something a rumored $200 Nexus-branded tablet might fix.
The main obstacle Google faces is that there are already viable alternatives to many of the services offered by Google Play.
Take, for example, Google Music. While we certainly like how it conveniently lets you access your stored music online for free, the fact of the matter is that it has only convinced two major labels to play ball. Factor in the wild popularity of rival music streaming services such as Spotify and MOG and you’ve got yourself a serious content problem.
Not to mention that iTunes already has a huge head start in the online movie rental space and that Amazon’s Kindle Store is still the most popular place to buy e-books online. Still, if anyone is positioned to gain ground on Amazon and Apple, it’s Google.
Google’s Android Market was already robust, boasting more than 450,000 different apps. The ability to buy them from your computer and then instantly have them sent to your phone and tablet is pretty appealing.
Plus, Google has a flexibility that Apple and Amazon don’t. Apple is locked into its own devices; Amazon has plenty of content, but doesn’t have the reach of Google when it comes to the ubiquity of Android, not to mention its storefronts aren’t as neatly synchronized.
When it comes to ease of use when dealing with your content, it’ll be hard to beat Google. Buy something once and you’ll instantly have it on all of your devices. If Google can boost its music catalog and release a popular tablet, it might have a winner on its hands.