Say goodbye to the Android Market. From now on, Google Play will be the place to get Android apps, along with music, books and movies.
The Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore all now redirect to play.google.com. In the coming days, the Android Market app for smartphones and tablets will become the Google Play Store, according to a company blog post.
This is a change in branding and appearance, not functionality. The listings for apps, movies, music and books look nearly the same as they did before, but with a new domain name and logo. Links to individual apps redirect to their respective pages on the new domain, so the switch shouldn't cause any broken links.
For Google, the branding change is understandable. To compete with Apple's iTunes, Google has slowly built up its own storefronts for music, books and movies, but until now advertised them as being part of the Android Market. This didn't make much sense, considering that the same content was also available on a PC or Mac.
With Google Play, the search giant is pushing the idea of having one place for all your content, available on Android devices or on any desktop Web browser. The cloud is a big part of this strategy, with purchased content automatically available on all devices, no syncing required. It's clearly an answer to Apple's iCloud, the main difference being that on PCs, Google is using a Website instead of a native desktop client.
I think it's a smart play as long as Google makes the transition clear to users who aren't keeping a close watch on tech blogs. Otherwise, some users might get confused when the Android Market disappears from their phones. Google will also have to figure out how to tie its standalone Music and Books Android apps into the Google Play brand, since they are no longer separate entities on the Web.