The lack of any announcement of major branding changes caught most off-guard. While Google was expected in early 2012 to make changes to how it sells content, but it was not expected to do so without making any notice.
Google noted the changes on its blog, touting the consistent brand as a way for users to perceive Google as a digital content store.
There may be a reason for the sudden change.
Large amounts of speculation has persisted that Apple was planning similar changes to move away from the iTunes brand for its content distribution. The Mac App Store, for example, depends on iTunes Store technology and frameworks, but does not make any references to iTunes as a marketplace. It is suspected that Apple may move to separate its content stores into separate applications, to better integrate the content stores with each player on Mac and iOS devices.
No information indicates that there was a race to the “Play” brand, the brand may be difficult to protect in terms of preventing others from using it. However, now that Google is using the Play brand, major players will likely avoid using it in relation to their respective content stores.
Google has already issued an update for its closed-source Android Market application to reflect the brand change. The change was announced to roll out on Tuesday, but as of Monday evening had already taken effect on most marketplaces. Google also updated its Music, Books, and Movie store applications on Android to reflect the branding.
To kick off the Google Play brand, Google has announced a “7 Days to Play” sale that will run across all four Play stores. The sale’s lowest price point is for $.49 apps, but will also offer $3.99 albums, $2.99 novels, and $.99 movie downloads, with new selections each day.
By augmenting existing brands with the Play brand, Google appears to be hoping not to confuse users. However, changing application names without any notice, as well as introducing a brand after pushing updates to devices is a rash experiment by the company. While successful with application sales, it is widely held that the company’s other content distribution efforts have been stagnated. While many have taken advantage of Google’s free storage options, such as 20,000 free songs (a direct across-the-bow at Amazon’s MP3-enhanced Cloud Drive), these offerings have not translated into massive sales.
Sales lags in Music, Movies, and eBooks may also explain why Google left the Android Market’s on-device brand alone. While it is listed as a part of Google Play, Google did not update Android Market’s app name or make any major changes to the application.