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Should a Google Play Branded Device Be Next for Google? [Opinion]

When Google chopped the Android Market off at the knees to unveil their new all-in-one media store dubbed Google Play, most people’s initial reaction was not all that favorable. In fact, “confused” is probably not even close to being the appropriate word to describe the way most Android fans felt. I argued that it made sense in the big scheme of things as Google likely wanted to draw away from the idea that their music, movie and book stores were tied to Android devices and instead show the world that they were available to everyone. While the name choice is still a bit puzzling, I do think it was the right move if Google plans to not only break into the tablet market with Android, but also to be more than just the “other smartphone OS for geeks.”  

When we talk about Apple products and iOS as a successful platform, up until this latest iPad, it wasn’t ever really about specs. Instead, it has always been about the ecosystem – more amazing apps than any other platform, massive music/movie/TV stores, and an OS that was easy for anyone to grasp on a variety of devices. It’s like an all-inclusive resort for mobile products. Your iPhone plays with your Apple TV which syncs with your iPad which is about to sync flawlessly with your iMac or Macbook once it sees Mountain Lion. It’s a suite of products that all work together

The Kindle Fire, it’s essentially the same thing. Ask anyone with a Fire if they know the operating system that it runs. I’d be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 have no idea that it is Android. You see, Amazon took Android, customized the hell out of it, dropped their own Amazon-branded app store on it, and created a similar all-in-one ecosystem to Apple’s that appears as their own. It’s apps, music, movies and a polished tablet UI together as one. Users of devices like this do not necessarily care what OS version or processor is in them, they care about the brand, the way it is presented to them, and ease of use.

With Android in general, there always seems to have been a disconnect in the ecosystem. There were once two separate operating systems for tablets and phones, some apps worked here while they wouldn’t work over there, Google’s other products like Chrome were at one time kept separate, and the music/movie/book stores were added on so much later that many haven’t yet fully adopted them as their go-to services. And were these Android specific or do I consume them from other outlets like my PC? Are they a part of Android or do they stand on their own?

So what does that have to do with Google Play? Think about it. Google Play is the new ecosystem for Google’s media products. Google has realized that in order to take this sector over the top, that they need to dip into the successful strategies of Apple and Amazon. Make their products about media, ease of use, and the Google brand rather than about subtle differences in specs or versions of Android. Google has essentially admitted that they are moving in this direction. Their product manager Punit Soni spoke just last week of a unified gaming experience from Google, meaning that you won’t have separate games for Google+, Chrome and Android and that they will all just be “Google Games.”

Sure, Android and its latest version still needs to be talked about as new features are introduced, but make it about those features and the experience they create rather than the version number, something they actually started to do with Ice Cream Sandwich. When Apple announces a new product, their commercials don’t brag about iOS 5.2, they talk about the new features that come in the software of the latest hardware release from them that you can’t live without. And I couldn’t even tell you what OS version the Kindle Fire is running at this point, but I know that my wife can’t put it down and consumes almost more media than I do away from a computer.

If they create the brand that users can go to for their media needs and an ecosystem that encompasses everything mobile and beyond (to TVs and to home), but without the confusion, how can they lose? Downplay Android, bring to light the fact that it’s Google? And why not release a device with this branding front and center. There has been enough talk about Google entering the hardware business that it wouldn’t surprise me if you started to see Google Play branded products.

“What’s that phone you’ve got there?” – “Oh it’s the Google Play phone.”

Something to think about.

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  • guardurgirl

    just google. not play. what a joke

  • i still like the idea of Nexus Branded products.  this is where hardware and OS comes synced up perfectly.  

  • fralogan

    Aside from the name change, the services all feel and look the same. In my circle of people more of us have Android phone than iPhone, most of them were confused by the change when everything about the store looked the same. My question is how important was the name change, other than crating a lot of buzz?

  • Tim Swann

    I think you have some good points, but Google Play Phone? Sounds like a toy

  • Keith Sumner

    Hey anyone know what happened with the tablet giveaway? I thought winners were being picked yesterday?

  • Scott Willenborg

    If you are seriously confused by the fact that the “Android Market” is now called “Google Play” you should probably not be outside without your helmet on.  It’s a scary world out there folks, go have a juice box and watch the Disney channel.

    • Google

      Its not about people like you. Its about people like my mom. They already don’t know the difference between Droid vs Android or the Android Market vs the Amazon App Store for Android. Its not about fandroids who post on DroidLife to pretend how intelligent they are.  Sorry if this is a difficult concept to understand for you. 

      • Scott Willenborg

        Great points.  Explaining to ANYONE that the apps they want are now in the “Google Play” app instead of the “Android Market” app does seem super-duper confusing.  Perhaps she would be more comfortable with the Samsung Intensity?  Just trying to help.

        Incidentally, I don’t post on Droid Life to pretend I’m intelag… intella… itelli… smart, I post on Droid Life to hang out with cool people like you and try to become a better, more compassionate person.

        p.s. Tell your moms that the coffee at McD’s is hot and she can burn her cooter is she isnt’t careful.

        • Scott Willenborg

          p.p.s. I didn’t realize I was talking directly with Google here either.  I like your new “Play” store.  Perhaps for the next name change you could go with “Google Apps Be Here Place” so it doesn’t jack with peoples psyche.

          • Keith Sumner

            Google: Confusing moms worldwide.


  • I dont understand how android users were not favorable of a simple name change.  Access to the same content is still there so why complain about a name?  Anywho…I dont see the big deal with the “play” branding.  Kinda makes sense if you ask me. 

    Play Music
    Play Games
    Play Video
    Play Books (yes, you dont play books but in the scheme of things, u get my point) 🙂

    • Google

      Yeah downloading apps from Google Play for my Motorola Razr HD running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with MotoBlur makes perfect sense. 

  • DadzBoyz

    They need to create a complete multimedia ecosystem before they brand a device to use it. It needs to at least equal Amazon or better.
    – Rent AND BUY video content
    – Contracts with the vast majority of TV, movie, music, gaming, and publishing (books, newspapers, magazines, etc.) companies.
    – Complete and consistent media interfaces.
    – A value proposition for media and games. “We do it too.” is not a value proposition.

    • Google

      exactly. this is why Larry Page is ruining Google. he is caught up in the “me too”. Amazon and Apple developed their respective markets before releasing devices. iTunes was well established pre-iOS and Amazon was established before the Fire and Kindles were released.  Google wants to copy everyone now and first it was Google Buzz so they could be like twitter, then it was Google+ so they could be just like Facebook and now this Play store so they are a all in one just like Amazon and Apple. It is kind of sad what he is doing to Google. 

      • DadzBoyz

        I don’t disagree with consolidating things into one market.  “Play” may not be the best name, but I get the idea.
        Yes, that is a me too step.  Yes, it is too little (but I’m not sure too late. This is a marathon, not a sprint).

        They just need to get a single vision, a single leader, a single design baseline, a single application architecture, a single media integration that looks and acts the same for music, video (TV, Movies, Music Videos,pictures, etc.), books, audio books, games,  etc.
        They have on app to play music that looks and acts nothing like the video playing app which has not connection or consistency with their book reader, and then the RSS reader is a totally different experience.  All of these media experiences need to be the same.
        Google needs to be a content aggregator which is like web search, but for media.  The value proposition needs to be that they let users create their own channels for whatever media they want and present it in a consistent way.  Content manager needs to be the same everywhere on every device.  Interface the same.  The “Play, Pause, Shuffle, Replay, Forward, Settings, etc. elements and graphics need to look and act the same.  They need to let Matias Duarte create one media vision and design.  Of course Andy would be invloved, but Matias is the designer.  Let him design and get out of the way.

        • CORYK333

          Love that last paragraph….IMO a streamlined media UI is needed ASAP if they want it to catch on with the masses (not just us “advanced/flashaholic” users) & Duarte is the perfect cat to get the media UI/UX to that level, IF, as you said, they just let him do his thing.

    • Raven

      I think you hit the nail on the head with your CAPPED BUY.  This to me is a major fail of Android/Google/Play whatever when compared to Apple/iTunes.  I don’t want to rent movies.  I don’t want to stream movies.  I want to buy movies for my Android tablet that I can download to my 32gb MicroSD and watch over and over at my leisure.  I already have over 20 movies from Digital Copy Editions that came with BluRays that I can currently only play on my tiny iPod Nano that was given to me as a gift.  Where the hell are my Digital Copy Editions for my 2 Android tablets?

      • DadzBoyz

        This is all a product of Apple.  The music, TV, book, and movie industries all got a bad taste in their mouth after Itunes ate into CD and DVD sales.  They felt captive to Steve Jobs and then to Amazon.  They learned from that and are HUGELY gun-shy about getting into it again.
        Google needs to tap in to their $$$ warchest and make it worth their while, while also being competitive.  Rope them into the largest user base (android phones) in smartphones and other eventual media players, then they can comeback and renegotiate after that.
        The industry excuse now is DRM.  Well, DRM got fixed with 2.3.3.  They’re just dragging their feet right now and Google is not motivating them to come back to the table.

  • KRS_Won

    I hadn’t thought about it before, but with the rumored price of the google tablet being so cheap, what if it is the media center Google has been talking about?    ….No apps, just Google Play?  movies, books, and music with easy home entertainment connectivity (wi-di)? 
    And could it be related to Google wanting to sell-off Motorola’s set top boxes?

  • jdrch

    As a technical user, I don’t think I like the idea of the OS version being downplayed. If most people have no idea what version they’re using *but* know they’re using an Android phone/device, what does changing that to Google Play really accomplish? Besides, Google Play is a marketplace/store, NOT an ecosystem per se. An ecosystem is platform + devices + apps + content. Google Play entails only the latter 2.

    Also, calling Android devices Google Play devices only confuses consumers into assuming Google Play content is Android-only, which takes Google right back to square one with the previous “Android Market” name problem.

  • Eb

    Is it me or does the font on your site look weird? It’s so pixelated

  • Booboolala2000

    Should just be referred to as Google Phones or Tablets and Google Play as the ecosystem. Which is what it sounds like they are doing. Apple doesn’t call the iPhone the App Store phone or the App Store Tablet..

    • Google

      Agreed. Just call it Google phones and drop the stupid Nexus title which makes no sense. Android is so entrenched now though it makes no sense to change to Play. They should have combined everything into the Android Market and just called it the Market. Completely changing the name now to Play is silly. 

  • WickedToby741

    Maybe each manufacturer can make their own Google Play device. There’d be a Samsung Galaxy Play, LG Optimus Play, HTC One Play, and a Sony Xperia… oh, wait.

  • brando56894

    But what about “Play Books”? That just sounds dumb…

    • Booboolala2000

      They haven’t rebranded books as Play. Just music, movies and market. Google wallet won’t be called Play Money.

      • ferrari187

        They have…

        • Booboolala2000

          Sorry.. My gnex hasn’t updated that yet. Play Books sounds more like something handed out at spring training.

      • Tim242

        Actually, it is now Google Play Books…

      • PC_Tool

        ” Google wallet won’t be called Play Money.”

        Why not?  That would be… awesome.

  • Cory

    I rather like the whole Google Play naming. Just look at the music and movie apps, they are now “Play Music” and “Play Movies”

  • kfath1978

    This all makes my head hurt.  

    • TheUI

      It’s the PC error (era) all over again…

  • Philip A. Kaiser

    Google market – Play. Google tablet – will be called the pad. Play pad. makes sense to me

  • Panamera

    I’d really like to see a Google Play branded device that could act as a competitor to the iPod touch (e.g. a device without phone functionality, like the Samsung Galaxy Players)

    A GPlay branded tablet would be nice as well.

  • Brent Stewart

    Thanks for the article Kellex. I’ve been preaching to the Android masses since before even the first Galaxy Tab 7″ tablet was a rumor (sometime in 2010 I believe) that Google and OEMs should focus on price and a cohesive ecosystem. That would be the only way to gain ground and take on Apple head on in the tablet business. No one wanted to listen to what I had to say back then. Sadly it took a knife in the back from Amazon to make more people, including Google, to see the light.

  • Now that we’re on this topic can we talk about how a ton of people think that they are “Droid phones” and their phone runs “droid” I just find it hilarious/annoying how people don’t know that they have an android phone.

    • palomosan

      That’s the legacy of OG.

      • Yeah, the marketing for the OG was amazing and everyone knew it by name. The marketing was actually as good as Apple’s marketing, I say that because although I hate to say it, Apple’s ad’s are very effective and everyone who’s not in to tech believes that they are top dog because of them.

        • pj

          I think you hit the nail on the head. The original Droid, the Droid does commercials, were absolutely sick. I had never heard of android and I had gotten my first iPhone three weeks before I saw the first one. The marketing guys were so good that I was ready to throw my first smartphone away for a Droid, and id never even seen one. I’ll never forget the first time watching it. “Everything iPhone can’t…………………DROID DOES

          • TheUI

            The OG is a ****ing Bohemian warrior. Motorola blew it directly after that, when sadly enough they could be sitting like a baus right now had they done the logical thing.

          • Mister_Eff

            Totally agree. If they continued in the unlocked bootloader, stock android direction they would be on top right now. I had the OG, then the DroidX, then the Binoic. Now that I have had a sammy phone and I like the quality and they are unlocked I don’t see a reason to buy a Moto phone ever again.

    • brando56894

      That annoys the living hell out of me!

    • Matthew Morrison

      haha so true
      *pulls out samsung galaxy nexus
      “Hey is that a droid phone?” (obviously oblivious to what android is)
      True story (happens at least twice a day)

  • dsass600

    that would be the stupidest idea on the planet

  • eddieonofre

    Google Play Phone… that sound like a toy I would buy to my lil niece.

    No offense but the Play brand is not a good option for a brand name. Why non Google Market (that Google Spot sound like a good name too)? or Google Music Player, Google Video Player, Google Books, Google Documents, Google Phone, etc

    The name google is really powerful and it already has an identity with it, so a google phone will be a great name

    As a matter of fact back in the day the OG Droid came out many ppl refer to it as the Google Phone 

    •  Actually a year and a half ago I didn’t know tech at all, and I saw an ad for half a second about a Google phone. Little did I know this was about those Android phones I was hearing some about.

      • eddieonofre

        True coz For some reason they where being advertised as Android (Or Droid for those in Verizon) and true you hear android and have no clue it has something to do with google.

        Maybe that was the plan, and now google want to incorporate it on the Google Brand (thus Google Play) 

    • brando56894

      yes, yes a thousand times yes!! It’s like you read my freaking mind, I just posted up the exact same thing. “Play Phone” makes it sound like a toy and I think Google Phone sounds a lot better.

  • Liderc

    Google Play fails anyways.  I don’t even know what to call my Nexus when people ask(they ask a lot), I just say it’s made by samsung…uhh called Galaxy Nexus…umm..it runs Android…..um..which Google makes….

    See the problem?=p

    • palomosan

      That’s not a problem, the name of the phone is Galaxy Nexus and it’s running the latest Android OS, see that’s not that hard to explain.

      I think what happened to Google Play is that they just through it out with no noticed, it took everyone by surprise and it raised some eyebrows but I think they’re just trying to get everything together, like Kellex said, an eco system that keeps everything under one roof.

      • Dan

        They really should have had a giant press event to trump up the whole thing, tell us all the great magical wonderfullness that Play was going to bring into our lives …. eh, nevermind.

    • Towelie420

      when I was on my trip from Columbus to DC the other day, while watching the NCAA tournament on my Xoom, I noticed an add/link showing how it was available on both iOS and Google play. When seen side by side the Google play logo and name becomes way more recognizable to your average person than it would be if it were still android market with the shopping bag logo. Even people who use iOS recognize Google and almost certainly use their search engine regularly. It only makes sense that a user like this could become interested in android simply because of this brand recognition. I like this name change a lot.
      Go bucks!

    • Jdstell

      Personally, I think Google is beginning to totally lose control of Android. There are too many versions of the OS out in the wild now, too many horrible manufacturer skins, and the store/market re-branding has totally confused people. Google needs to begin to better regulate hardware they allow the OS to run on and the implementation of UI skins. When I heard that Google was buying MMI, I got really excited. I thought maybe Google had a chance now to release nothing but vanilla Android phones on excellent hardware. When I heard that they had no plans to change how MMI operates and the acquisition was purely for the patents portfolio, it was a major letdown.

      • Google

        Isn’t “open” awesome! This is why linux distros are the most widely used desktop operating system. Oh wait…

      • Liderc

        Completely agree.  Google thinks because android is gobbling up the market in big market graphs that they’re doing good, but most people I talk with who buy cheap android devices(the majority) say they hate android and want to switch to Apple.  But you ask me or some of my colleagues who use the vanilla android experience and high quality devices and they’ll say they love the experience.

        Google is going to lose their market share if they don’t improve the quality of the final product, which is too loosely controlled right now.  I know we all want Android to remain “open”, but when it becomes so open that the end users have a bad experience and jump ship, it’s time to tighten the belt and make sure people are happy with their device and plan to continue purchasing android devices in the future. 

        The Nexus “experiment” proves that people are willing to adopt a vanilla experience.  There should only be vanilla android devices, the manufacturers can easily differentiate themselves by their phone design and the quality of their devices.  This would be a HUGE step in the right direction.  All Android phones would be on the same version, it would create a unity between the the users and allow for quicker updates/bug fixes.

        Hopefully they realize this before it’s too late and the majority hop on the Apple bandwagon, because in the end, the better quality product always wins and as soon as the Iphone gets 4G it will be the highest quality product. 

  • Michael_NM

    Google should just co-opt all of apple’s monikers:
    Android > gOS
    Nexus > gPhone
    Tablet > gPad
    Play Store >gSpot

    Actually, I couldn’t care less what Google calls its stuff. 

    • Ray

      gspot lol the ladies will love that

      • eddieonofre

        Honey let me check your gSpot 

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        • Aardvark99

          I keep having problems w/ the gSpot, keeps force closing…

          • Bailers77

            The gSpot clearly would be a Motorola phone. Just like a married couple, the gSpot would have a locked bootloader.

          • Loki

            I finally would be able to find the gspot ; p

    • This wins.

    • Lgreg64

       gSpot i like that

    • Scott Willenborg

      The gSpot is a myth…

      • Billyrouth2000

        Only if you don’t know what your doing.

        • I have a map its not there

          • Scott Willenborg

            You can only find it with VZW Navigator.

          • Jason Brown


      • FortitudineVincimus

        2 finger cul de sac jones

    • patapongirl

      LMAO @ gspot.

  • Androidandwp7equalsPower

    Since Google seems not be supporting the G-nex or the entire Nexus series directly anymore, maybe they are prepping for a new favorite series. Im okay with it if the Nexus was for phones and play was for tablets.

  • Kernschatten

    I do believe that the announcement of Google branded tablet and the changes to the Android Market are linked and not just coincidence. I just hope that whetever device Google rolls out to integrate with Google Play, that it is not crippled like the Kindle Fire. I want the Asus 370T. I do not want a Kindle Fire clone.

    • Bionic

      Thats exactly what your gonna get.  It just wont be called the 370t  

    • madatasus

      I agree because now I am hearing that they are lowering the price to 149.00-199.00 to compete with the Kindle Fire.  In order to do that they are going to scrap the Tegra 3 quad core and go with a cheaper dual core processor.  I would be willing to pay the $250 for the 370T. 

      • shooter50

        yeah, big spender

  • Sp4rxx

    I thought any Android-powered device was a ‘play’ device?  I mean with everything available for everything, why flood the market with yet another ‘device’ that has connection to the Android Market?  I’m not sour, I’m simply saying that with smartphones, tablets, TVs and other media devices that connect to the ‘play store’ anyway, why make one specifically for it?  That would be a waste of resources.

    • Well that’s a good question, are these all Google Play devices now or are they Android devices? Google has essentially separated while at the same time including Android into their new store, something that is beyond confusing.

  • Jeremy Morrison

    Umm no…. no Google Play phone but more Google Nexus devices!

    • Bionic

      not likely, lots of people think the nexus line is done

      • Liderc

        considering I’ve never heard it, you’re full of bs.

        Google is always going to release a phone with their new OS, it’s the only way they can reveal it to everyone since it takes the manufacturers 6 months to adopt the damn thing.

  • Luls. like the Xperia Play? It would have to be a gaming device – not getting taken seriously with a name like that.

  • willsours

    I don’t think I can ever buy a Motorola device again after all their shenanigans. God their software sucks. This Google Play thing, meh. Unless Google integrates bittorrent into the Play store I still wont be getting much out of it. But the masses probably want something more cohesive (still a LONG ways to go).

    • AlexGhossein

      In my honest opinion, I think motorola’s ui, preformance, and build is better than any of the other main android competitores. My first android phone was a samsung captivate but I switched that out for my bionic now and samsungs touhwiz doesn’t even compare to motorola.

  • Inquizitor

    I like the idea and would even take it a step further, where the name Android itself could be replaced by Google Play. I personally think Google Play itself is a bad choice, but the idea of one whole Google ecosystem that relates to the store, the products, and the software could be pretty useful. As much as I love Android and its personality, this may be a better business move.

    • I hate to keep bringing up Apple, but they have managed to release Apple products that run iOS. So my idea is that you brand products with Google Play that still run Android. Android is a big enough name now that it would be silly to just get rid of it.

      • You won’t get this uniformity when you provide an OS like Google does to anyone who will use it. That’s where the Apple system works for them – no one else has iOS on their phones. 

        • I guess I’m also wondering how OEMs are even going to market their phones now. Sure they run Android, but they use the Google Play store. Talk about confusing. Maybe Android does disappear from the forefront?

          • SKAVENG3R

            Will this change from, “Droid life” to “Play Life”?

          • palomosan

            Good question.
            I preferred the name Android Market, it represented the OS and everyone knew the name Android, I don’t know who came out with this idea unless…

            It’s because of a Lawsuit.

        • AlexKCMO

          I would love to see Google dump the Nexus program and rebrand it Google Play Phone, and make it exclusive to Motorola.  Make Motorola the iPhone of Google.  Supported and updated by Google, directly from them with very little intervention from the carriers; just like Apple has. 

          I’d love to see Play Stores with tons of this stuff. 

          Make Android the OS, Play the experience.

          • TheUI

            If the Galaxy Nexus on VZW taught you anything, it should be that Google can’t “persuade” carriers like Apple can.

          • AlexKCMO

            I think it can.  If not, it should sell new devices as GSM only unlocked.  A guy at an “Unlocked Phone” kiosk in the mall told me he couldn’t keep the GSM Nexus in stock. 

            If Google starts ignoring Verizon, they’ll go back to being the “great service / crappy phone carrier” they were in the early – mid part of the last decade. 

            Just like with the iPhone, they’ll eventually come around. 

            Hell, take it a step further and start your own carrier.

      • brando56894

        I completely see what you’re getting at and it’s a great idea for Google to consolidate everything, but “play” is the stupidest damn name I’ve ever heard of!

        “Google Play Phone” makes it sound like a cheap toy that you would give to a little child. 

      • ScoobySnack

        And here I thought the Google Market was already a big name, too.

  • Luniz7