I have heard an absolute heap of unpleasantness about the rebranding of the Android Market today. Google Play is childish. It's unprofessional. It makes Google look less than serious about its content business. The logo is weird. The name is ambiguous - play what? It reminds people of Sony products. There are endless gripes and, let's face it, there always will be when a company rebrands a popular product.

Tomorrow, countless analysts and "experts" will weigh in on whether the move was a good one, hawking over Google's stock price like a cardiograph readout. Some will say it was terrible - what was Google thinking abandoning the Android branding of their content hub? Others (you know, like me) will claim it foreshadows a breakout moment for Google into the content industry.

Now, I'll admit I can be a bit of a Google fanboy at times. Watching Google unveil a new product is a bit like getting a peek into the Lockheed Skunk Works - you're seeing the culmination of a lot of debate, thinking, and work by a lot of very, very smart people. Not only that, but the products you see today are often a sort of sneak-preview those you'll be using tomorrow. Think about something like Goggles - an app that can now continuously scan what your phone sees for recognizable objects. Now, about the rumors of a set of Google HUD glasses with augmented reality and other features. I think everyone can connect the dots.

Sure, it's all tea-leaf reading to some extent, but I think we can make some fairly concrete extrapolations from Google's announcement today about the future of Android and Google's content business.

There's Always A Better Name

Whenever an old product gets a new name, people inevitably get upset. It's like someone walked into your garage and re-badged your car. In neon pink and comic sans. But like most things that in reality have zero consequences for your day-to-day life, people tend to sort of just get over it. Unless you do something monumentally stupid like actually attempt to un-consolidate your services (goodbye, it that shall not be named).

Google Play isn't the best product name ever conceived. But it's certainly not the worst. It also avoids being too descriptive of the product, and we'll discuss why that's important a bit later.

The one thing I think people can agree on with the change of branding for the Android Market is the logo - it's better. Is it the most amazing thing in the universe ever? No, and I think that all comes down to a matter of opinion. But come on, the Market logo was getting pretty tired, even after its numerous facelifts:

Market (1) gplay_logo_g

There's also the issue that the Market, and its logo, were inextricably tied to Android. Obviously, Android is one of Google's crown jewels, but leaving the Market and its riches (apps, games, music, and movies) so closely associated with Android was inherently limiting for Google. Why would you go to the Android Market to watch a movie or listen to music on your Windows or Mac computer? It just didn't make sense.

Playing It Up

It's pretty clear that Google's strategy with this rebranding effort is to makes its content business a distinct entity, as opposed to a bloated limb of its mobile operating system. It makes sense. Apple is doing it. Microsoft is doing it. Our world is quickly getting appified - more and more we consume byte-size (pun very much intended and highly inaccurate) morsels of content, as opposed to grazing in all you can eat monthly fee buffets (admittedly, I still subscribe to Netflix streaming). We're spawning the world's first "$0.99 millionaires."

Easy-to-use "1-click" (please don't sue me, Amazon) payment solutions and high-speed broadband internet have turned us all into micro-impulse buyers. $0.99 here and there for an app, game, or that one song you just remembered and really want to listen to right now because you haven't heard it in years. Maybe a few bucks for a movie rental a couple times a month at RedBox or Amazon Instant Video and, if you're feeling splurgy, that new game that costs $5 but gets so many 5-star reviews you can't help yourself any longer.

So, why limit that paradigm shift to digital content commerce to the mobile space, or more specifically, Android? Google wants you to make these itty-bitty purchases from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, TV, and probably eventually your refrigerator. And they want you to be able to do it regardless of the fact that you own a Windows fridge or an iOS car. Google Play wants to be your one-stop, multi-platform content shop.

The Android Market name just didn't allow for this kind of vision, and I think you can see why, now - Android is just one facet of Google's larger world domination strategy (of smiles, of course).

Look at where companies like Amazon are going with content - I've rented movies on Amazon through a Blu-ray player, my desktop, and my laptop. And millions of people are doing the same on their Kindle Fires. You can buy your Kindle eBook and read it on your Android, iOS, or Kindle device. You can download your Amazon MP3 music collection onto your computer, or you can stream it to your smartphone from anywhere. It's not hard to see why Google wants in on this content revolution.

Is the name kind of silly? Sure. But it's also just ambiguous enough that Google could use it to sell, stream, or otherwise beam you almost anything, and that's certainly an exciting prospect looking into the future. Play is about giving you what you want, anywhere, any time, and not worrying about drivers, operating systems, or proprietary formats. Yeah, that's marketing-speak mumbo-jumbo, but I get it. Google has been a pioneer and an advocate for making the digital world a seamless place regardless of how you connect to it, and I think Play is just Google doing what it always has. Namely, making it easier to do this:

all _f34aac1c71908d337a654b06102f38bd

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Houston

    Points well made.

    The only thing I don't like is the logo. I actually don't have a problem with the logo design itself, I just think it should have been designed with Google's colors instead of using pastel versions of Google's colors.

    • Jesus Otero

      They are the colors of the categories of media you can buy in Google Play.
      Blue - Books
      Orange - Music
      Red - Movies
      Green - Apps

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      The colors are the same 4 colors that are used for each of the 4 main content headers that have been in the market for a while. Now the logo has been made into a play button that uses the colors of the 4 content categories -- books, movies, music and apps.

      • Joshua

        Very good point, I hadn't noticed this.

        I liked the logo before, now I like it even more.

    • Tee

      The look of this logo is way better than the old one. The colors in the android world are somewhat weird, to start with. They should be more sophisticated, like this logo, instead of the crayon-like ones.

      If you compare the color worlds of the three main operating systems, android has the most childish one with the crayon colors...

  • Germian

    I totally agree with you there.

    BUT there is still one thing left Google has to do: Introduce another payment method. A lot of friends of mine simply don't want to (or are able to) get a credit card and carrier billing isn't available either. And in Europe it's not usual to have 2 or 3 credit cards, if you are not travelling internationally.

    So, how about either introducing some Google Points or show some openness to Paypal where you don't have to have a CC?

    • Heywud Jabloomeh

      Or they could have some kind of Google Cards, kind of like the cards you see at grocery stores or corner stores, where they sell Nexon, Gift Cards, and those other Game Currency cards for online MMO's. Another example is PSN cards for Playstation.

      • Adam

        Agreed. How about "Play Gift Cards"? In other words, it's pretty much an iTunes gift card in which you can purchase anything on the Play Store (trying to get use to the name). They definitely need something like that, because that would be an awesome gift for me.

        • Eric

          That is something I could get behind. This might well be a step in that direction.

        • Aux

          Or how about NOT following in the steps of Apple? Maybe?

    • MrCheesecake

      I'm in the UK and all I had to do was add my debit card to the Android Market (Play Store I suppose it's now called) and any purchases come straight from my bank account, no credit card required...

      • Satish

        Hey can you please tell me how to add Debit Card in Google Wallet?
        Since I live in India and whenever I try to setup Google Wallet Payment mode it shows only Credit Card and once I lost 1$ when I setup debit card in that section which I did not get back.
        Thank you.

    • ASC

      I had/Have a Google Checkout account a while back with my Debit Card info loaded onto it for making purchases online. Apparently Google Checkout is now a part of Google Wallet. Every time I purchase something from the market it uses my info from Google Checkout (Google Wallet) and debits it directly from my checking account. I think you should be able to get a Google Wallet account and load your Debit card onto it to have your purchases taken straight from your checking account rather than needing a Credit Card.

    • Nick

      I came across this issue today when I wanted to buy an app in the "7 Days to Play" sale. Didn't want to link my debit card from my bank account so went out and bought a prepaid Visa card.
      It was a $6 charge for that card itself and I put $20 credit on it. There's a 9c charge for each transaction, but I figured it's worth it from a security point of view.
      I'm in Australia, but I would assume similar products exist in other countries?

  • Kree Terry

    I agree completely, i think that the rebranding is just googles attempt to make it easier to market their products. good write up!!

  • MrCheesecake

    @Germian - I'm in the UK and all I had to do was add my debit card to the Android Market (Play Store I suppose it's now called) and any purchases come straight from my bank account, no credit card required...

  • http://mobiletechview.com John, Alabama

    The only name I don't like is Play Books, but they had to name it that or it wouldn't fit in. However, I'll get used to the name, but I will probably still call it "the market".

    • James, Perth, Australia

      I'm just waiting to hear about the law suit from Blackberry about the uses of Play book

  • Joshua Wise

    Honestly, an easier more would have been the Google Store, or Google Market. Much smoother, less confusing, could have stuck a G on the Bag icon, would have been simple and sophisticated, everyone would have understand. For those who have Android devices, that don't understand much, will wake up in a few days wondering where there market went etc. Oh well, I feel as if Google may have kicked them self with this one, yet I understand their reasoning. Guess we will see.

    • Freak4Dell

      Totally agree. Though, doesn't some other company already use a bag with a G on it? I feel like it's Guess, but I could be completely wrong.

    • jash

      Completely agree. Google Market would have been a better way to go.

  • Luly

    Most people just don't want to deal with changes.

    I mean c'mon people, if you could accept such a generic and boring name "Market", then anything will be better than it. I'm seriouly glad that Google finally gave our android market a name instead of calling it Market.

  • Kenny O

    Very well written and insightful. I agree with all of the points you made.

  • http://katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

    Very well said, and I'm glad someone said it.

    Play may not be the best name, but Google had to both bring all of it's content together under one banner, AND introduce it to the world outside Android.

    Also, I doubt I could have done better.

  • Marco Duran

    I think the "Play" name is a good one, marketing wise. It's a lighthearted word and has the potential to appeal to a large number of consumers.

    In contrast, Android Market was a techie, serious sounding name. Its nature was inherently limiting, and I think it's actually hurt Google a little bit.

    Moving to a name that resonates with a larger number of people is a good one.

    • Bob

      But what about all the business users on android? I agree that they needed to unify their system but play undermines all the serious business users out there.

  • Zaeem S.

    Great article, mate! :)

    I'm a bit of a Google fan myself and I actually think a re-branding is a step in the right direction. Companies NEED a face-lift now and then! It just makes sense! With Android out to conquer the world, Google needs to think about the future and think about what people would like or dislike years from now.

  • Calum

    It's a bad name when large portions of the Western world can't read it without thinking of Durex Play...

    • Marco Duran

      Maybe that's the intention? There are a good number of "massage" apps available for android devices, after all.

  • Eric

    For me, I have no problem with play, but the name. I'm not sure it's childish, it just doesn't sound right. That, and the act of "playing" your apps, movies, music, and books are not synonymous with purchasing them. I wish they had gone a different route. Still, I'll give it a shot, see where they take it. Maybe it will grow on me. It won't stop me from buying apps or anything.

  • http://www.plizy.com Robin

    There's nothing too adventurous in "Play" but it signals an intention to make a deep dive into entertainment and away from productivity. They want to be your go-to when it comes to down time.

  • Ruperto

    This article is right on.

  • Citrus Rain

    I don't like the icons.

    The play button might cause confusion with a media player, and the new icon for Google Music... Too much orange.

    (Yes, I realize my icon has alot of orange. But without the background of it, it pulls it off nicely.)

    I just feel like orange looks bad if overused in most places.

  • Freak4Dell

    You make very valid points. However, I still don't like the name, or the logo. I definitely agree that it was time to lose the Android part of the branding, but I would rather have seen it just become Google Market, or something to that effect. I mentioned the reasons why I don't like the name Play on the other article.

    As for the logo, I think it completely contradicts with the name. The name indicates fun, light, and free, whereas the logo looks like a standard boring corporate logo. Would have been much more fitting if they used the standard Google colors, rather than pastels.

  • Wicket

    for me it's just that the name "Android Market" has finally become a house hold name equal if not more so that the "App Store" and now they are changing that.. to the average consumer this is going to be very confusing.. I got a txt from Verizon informing me of the change, this is proof that they are preemptively informing customers of the changes cause they know they are going to get bombed with people asking where the Android Market is on their phones and why is it gone. maybe I'm wrong and it'll be a smooth transition but I for one am not sold on this yet.. give me 2 weeks ;)

  • http://justreboot.wordpress.com deidein

    Google Play is a fine name.

    Sure, we'll goof on it, but we're Android geeks. Joe Schmoe Android user will embrace it - it doesn't get much more non-threatening than 'Google Play'. Only bad if Chucky from Child's Play says it.

  • Himmat

    So that means we can now buy movies/books/music from Google Play even if we don't have an Android phone or tablet?

    If so, it's a good move by Google.

  • Vicky

    I would think the old "Market" word is the 1 that would imply games, books, apps, music, movies, business. A "market" for everything.

    The new "Play Store" sounds more like "only games". Only "play things".

    Another Google step backwards.

  • Kent Murray

    Could it be that this name change is all leading up to Googles assistant and how we will interact with it.
    Just think of it, to open a book by voice you could say "google - play - books", and the same for playing your music "google - play - music".

    ......just a thought......

    • Vicky

      Huh? You "play" a pdf/mobi book file?

  • Kellic

    Umm no. Google Play has one and only one goal. Its Google's attempt to jump up and down screaming look over here we have media content as well. Because no one really cares about Google for music\Movies\Books. There are others who do it better, and with more content. That is all this is. Is a refocused attempt to drive sales. Nothing more. And frankly. Google should have left well enough alone. They really don't need to invade EVERY market. As I had said before if Google had been smart they would have really worked at teaming up with Amazon. Amazon to use Google Checkout, and Google integrating their Books\Music\Movie\market content into Android. It could have been a really good match.

  • Rovex

    I dont like the name, it sounds silly, its in the Play Store'.. uuhh horrible. I dont like the logo, it looks like a generic 'unknown app' logo

  • KRS_Won

    The only change to the triangle needed is that the colors should be Nexus-ish.

    They can keep Play as a Google product, but also keep an Android tie-in.

  • Leif

    I totally agree.

    Just imagine that we hopefully will have also gift cards in stores for the new Google Play Store.

    An Android on it with the name Android Market? Nobody of the consumers would expect he could buy music or movie with that for his non Android devices.

    But when I imagine this new colorful play logo combined with the title it would look pretty well on a little card or banner in a store.

    So I pesonally pretty much like it and hope this will also result in more payment options or gift cards since this is still a big problem for many customer outside the US.

  • Tim Sheppard

    Google is well known and Android not so. I speak to people who have iPads about my Android tablet and they ask what 'Android' is, however, they have heard of Google. Therefore calling our devices Google devices makes sense. However, add monikers such as 'Play' takes away the impact of the name and frankly does make it look childish. Google already has a known and good name, it's 'Google' way play with it (sorry the pun). The logo is possibly the worst 3d representation of a triangle I have ever seen, if it is supposed to be a 3d representation that is.
    If Google want it's branding to be taken seriously, how about Global advertising campaigns showing what it and various devices can do above and beyond Apple products, instant viewing of multiple email accounts via widgets anyone?

    • Renil

      A 3D representation of a triangle?? :S

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

    Strange, after reading this editorial it actually moved me from being relatively indifferent, if a bit annoyed, by the re-brand to actually strongly disliking it.

    I've long had the feeling that Google needed to drop 'Android' from the market branding. In much the same way Apple Computers dropped Computers from their name when the iPod became their bread and butter, I saw Google simply stripping away the unnecessarily specific moniker of Android. Even replacing 'Android' with 'Google' made plenty of sense and maintains the brand value.

    The instant I saw the announcement my thought was that Google wanted to surprise people by going for a drastic change rather than being subtle. After discussing with others and seeing a few comments to it, I agree with Kellic, this is more about yelling at the world, "Look, we really do have our own iTunes, come look at it".

    The fundamental problem with this re-branding is that it didn't just shift away from the techie-sounding 'Android Market', it swung wide of the generalized moniker to something that actually feels to exclude the techie side (among many others btw). In a pointlessly high-school-movie way of saying it, it's like the geeky kid in school suddenly gets a make-over and turns cool then ignores all of his old friends and interests so nobody will ever again see him as the geek. The new naming looks to hide the largest and most important 25% of that limb of their business.

  • jash

    If I worked for apple or was an iphone fan, I'd be laughing my ass off right now.

  • Jakey

    google market is the obvious choice, the best choice. why they would go with google play is beyond me.

  • L boogie

    Thanks for the article David, I don't mind the rebranding if it gets to unify the entire Google ecosystem but Google market would've been a much more logical name like google music, voice, maps, translate etc...... I mean what's next play voice, play maps, play navigation beyond play books, play movies etc, we'll just wait & see what else el goog has in store for the masses

  • HayabusaJames

    This is not a battle you can win, and if you could there would be nothing gained. There is nothing wrong with it. Its far more professional than that amateur designed green robot.

    If you wanna gripe pick on that awful designed android character that has no knees or elbows or mouth that can't be animated well, and tiny expressionless eyes. Oh wait its a robot. (wtf where they thinking?) But that too is a battle that can't be won.

    Move on, go find a new app to download to occupy your time, or get back to work. :-)

    • ZRod

      They were thinking that your phone is a machine used to enhance your life (like robots),.
      I say they did a great job, what company/product has limited edition releases of their logo that sell out quickly or stickers/tshirts that can be modified to fit people's personalities and hobbies.
      Move on, go find something else to pick on, or get your own OS with your own logo.
      Tho I agree with your first 2 sentences. Whether you love or hate it, it is here to stay.

  • http://www.wrexham-city.com Paul

    Market implies you can buy things & play implies you can play, & the main thing you do is buy things.

    Google should have just called it The Market & added a "Play" within The Market.


    • Nathan

      "& the main thing you do is buy things." I havnt bought a single app...FREE apps FTW :P

  • cosmic

    I can absolutely agree to dropping the android market moniker, Google Market would have been a perfect one to switch over to.

    If you guys were to change to covering Google as a whole would you choose "Google Police" or something random like "Dog Police"? Sure you could justify Dog police saying police dogs help the community and thats what you're doing, but its a p*** poor explanation just like Play has.

  • Nathan

    I dont mind the name too much, but I do have some minor issue, like when I download a file manager, ROM manager, Clockworks, I am in no way PLAYING. So the name doesnt fit, I do like most of it but the examples above and more really dont make sense so its a lil confusing they picked it.

    Well see how long b4 its renamed again :)

  • http://cnet.co/ncozma Nicole Cozma

    Google Market would have encompassed all their services/goods. Play just reminds me of sandboxes or stages.

  • Calvin

    All of you guys have some good points but I think this move is good and bad at the same time.

    The good
    Google can now for the first time make a Commercial that says... I bet you did not know Google play music, movies, games, etc... the reason this is a good thing is google can now move there system to a full Application that can be installed on a pc, mac or any other devices that's a big plus.

    The bad
    Apple will try there best to shoot down the brand name and make it look like child play (yeah that's a joke) and with them having the fuel for the fire they Damn sho going to try, please note amazon will not say a thing because they need google.

    So what to make of all this mumbo jumbo I say Google will play hard to win you over.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      I'm sorta with ya on what you're saying, but there's two things I couldn't disagree with more.

      1. Google will not create native applications that can be installed on other people's OS's. It's not that they've never had native applications (Google Talk), but there's so few and they were never given serious effort/polish and were never as good as their web-based counterparts. Google believes in pushing web browsers to be better so they can write something once and run it anywhere. Remember, they make most of their money with advertising, and they really can't do that very effectively with native applications.

      2. Amazon...No matter what, they believe they don't need anybody (they are the Walmart of the internet). Today they are using Android, but if anything happened to make Android an unprofitable venture, they would either drop it like a hot potato or look to an alternate solution to perpetuate the existing business model (ex, license Blackberry's Android Player). Also remember, they aren't remotely interested in Android as a whole, they only care about getting to re-use certain components of the OS. I do agree that they will say nothing because Amazon generally avoids getting involved in childish fights like this, it doesn't help the bottom line.

  • Perry

    Google Market would have been a much better choice. It's all about selling content; be it books, videos, music or apps. You buy at the market. See the connection there?

    Play is too ambiguous. If you say google market people assume its a place to buy something. If you say google play people are like, "huh? what?"

    I'm not a Madison Ave marketing expert but even I see that.

  • MATT

    "Get my app from the play"

    "Get my app from the market"

    This is a stupid move.. play is not descriptive word it is a action doing word. it just does not work well in this sort of thing.

    It would work well for a 'Singlar' app but a place with such a wide range of items this does not work.

  • MATT

    "Get heart beat from play"

    "Get heart beat from market"

    ^ heart beat is made up app but you see what im getting at Play just relates to to many other things..where market you could say it was simple and you dint have to explain it.

  • Mike

    Personally, I still don't like the change. I don't like the new logo and I really don't like the new name, but I guess I'll get used to both of them.

    But marketing-wise, I'm actually more worried for Google, and for a couple of reasons:
    1) the name reminds people of Sony products (but I guess that not too big a deal).
    2) for the less tech intelligent people (a large percentage of Android users) who are looking into an Android device and go to the store to check some out, they will see the Play Store and automatically think the name is a rip-off of Apple's App Store, mostly because of the word "Store", and they'll think that Google couldn't think of a better name, possibly steering them away from that device.
    3) many large companies are now creating apps for their business, and they like to mention their mobile apps in their commercials. Usually when companies mention their app in their commercials, they say something like "and you can now download our app from the App Store or Android Market". But now they will have to say something like "and you can now download our app from the App Store or Play Store", and that just doesn't sound right. It will also make many more people think the name is a rip-off of Apple's App Store, as I mentioned in my second point.

    Also, when people hear the commercials call it the Android Market, it helps the less tech related people become more familiar with what Android is, and that's a good thing. The word "Play Store" has no reference to Android, so it wouldn't do the same. It would only confuse those watching the commercial, as they wouldn't know what they're talking about when they say Play Store since they've never heard of it before and because it has no reference to Android.

  • DG

    I don't like the fact that the Google Books app was just "Books" in my phone, now it's called "Play Books".... reminds me of Blackberry.

  • Chris

    Where do we go to work? "Play" doesn't fit in any way.

    Are they tring to help Blackberry with their marketing?

  • Mr Ed

    I only have a limited time before I go "play" to pay my bills so I'll keep it short.
    They're directing where their income comes from. It's entirely market awareness. In twelve months it will be rebranded the google omniverse

  • okungnyo

    Branding is not about description, it is about building a unique image.

    Pre-iPad, when somebody sad "pad" you thought tampons. Post-iPad, you think iPad. Same with iPod. The iPod redefined the word "pod" previously meaning "hull" into "Apple's MP3 player".

    Google can redefine the word "play" so that when we hear the word "play" we think: Google. Besides, Android's brand image is not that good. When you say "Android" you think "poor man's iPhone" and when you say "Market" you think "flea market". That's horrible branding. On the other hand, when you say "Google", you think "innovative tech" and when you say "Play" you think "fun media".

    • kamikaji

      Besides, Android's brand image is not that good. When you say "Android" you think "poor man's iPhone" and when you say "Market" you think "flea market". Filthy elitist.

  • Nick

    I disagree with the name chosen as well. My mom thought it was a media player or a game she downloaded and never opened it until I explained where she can download apps again. We all known the well known App Store from Apple, it would have hurt Google to have "Google Market or Google Store". For some reason "play" reminds me of something I used to have on my Sprint phone years ago but I can't remember what it did.

    Also when I hear "Play", i also think of playdoh, playboy, playground, playoff, playful. ....It just doesn't work with the image.

    The only smart thing that was done was putting their new logo inside of a shopping bag so the icon resembles "I can buy/download things".