Google announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that is would be launching a unified social and gaming platform and the launch of Google Play seems the first step in this direction. Google has over the years built independent products that took users to different locations but with the age of platform-based services dawning, Google has seen the importance of merging its various web properties into a unified platform. This is perhaps best exemplified by the recent merger of Privacy Policies across all Google products, something that has seen the company getting some serious flack for it, no less.
Google Play is actually not a new platform, however. The company has instead decided to rename the Android Market Google Play and in effect, has expanded the mandate of the store to include books, movie titles and music. Google has been struggling to market its other e-commerce offerings especially Google Books and Google Music and it will be seeking to piggy back on the huge success of the Android Market in order to bolster sales in its other units. In fact, one of the key reasons why Google is doing this is it hopes that when someone goes to the app store to download an app, they may very well find a book or movie title while at it and end up purchasing those as well.
The Android market has grown at a blistering rate in tandem with the spread of Android devices and has grown from its inception in 2008 with no apps to 450,000 apps and 13 billion downloads to date. Google may be salivating at these numbers especially if it can trickle some of them to their other digital stores. Nevertheless, Google has made a smart move and if they can add everything to Google Play, including the Chrome Store, it would make for a very compelling alternative to iTunes.