Google is taking a big new step in bringing all of its content arms under one roof — and that new entity is called Google Play. Starting today, Google will begin a rebranding of the Android Market, Google Music, Google Books, and its video offerings. Until now, all of those content hubs had more or less resided under the banner of the Android Market, and it seems like the company is interested in making users understand those disparate pockets of content as a unified whole. A company spokesman called Play "an evolution of Android Market."
Google Play (called the Google Play Store in some instances) will become the single destination for all of the company's buyable content. Accordingly, the standard Android books, music, and video apps will become Google Play Books, Google Play Music, and Google Play Movies. But it's not just about devices. Google Play is meant to bring together the company's content offerings in both mobile and browser experiences.
Android devices running version 2.2 or later will have their Market app automatically updated "over the coming days," while the Google Play Store moniker will make its way into the Google sandbar, much like the Google+ service. The Android Market name will be retired, though you won't miss it much since the Google Play Store looks nearly identical.
The Mountain View-based company seems to be concentrating its messaging about the service on the fact that Google Play is cloud-based and will keep your content in sync. In fact, that message seems to be not just the focus here, but the main driver behind this change. It's clear that Google has struggled with a wide variety of content services (and methods of accessing those services), and wants to bring them all together in a way that makes sense to consumers.
In its announcement on the Google Blog, the company calls out the hassle of "moving files between your computers," and "endless syncing across your devices... [with] lots of wires." The statement seems designed to help users understand that Google Play is akin to Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match offerings. Google even touts free cloud storage for up to 20,000 songs. That's nothing new for current users of the Android Market, but admittedly the way Google has structured its e-commerce choices and services has never been especially clear. Hopefully this marks the beginning of real work to resolve those issues.
Google is also using this opportunity to show off its competitive pricing in movies, music, and books, with deals happening throughout the week in celebration of the launch. A full gamut of content will be available here in the US, while services will be limited in other countries due to licensing deals (or lack thereof). Irrespective of country, the Android Market will be replaced with Google Play as the official Android app destination.