Google Play? What The Hell Was Wrong With Android Market?

play_logo

Google often confuses me. The company, with its thousands of genius employees, often makes the most brain-dead decisions. Just earlier today Google rolled out their latest twist on the Android Market — but it’s not called Android Market anymore. Instead of simply redesigning the e-store, Google also re-branded the whole thing to Google Play.

The reasoning is sound: the company wanted to better describe their offerings since it’s not just apps. The Play name is multifaceted, evoking thoughts of playing a game or pressing play on a media file. Cool. But most markets also sell more than one sort of good. The old name worked just as well.

Google has a problem with course changes. They often come suddenly and without much warning. It’s a side effect of Google’s philosophy of launching early and launching often. Google often releases a product and evolves it to match the market’s demand. That works when a product is just coming off the bench, but it’s a little late in the game to switch up one of Android’s major features.

As Chris pointed out today, along with the new name, Google Play also uses a completely new icon (it looks a lot like GoPlay’s, btw). Gone is the shopping bag as a colorful play button takes its place. Look for the update to hit your device within the next couple of days if it hasn’t already.

This re-branding affects other Google apps as well. Google Music is now called Google Play Music. Google Movies is now Google Play Movies. And, much to the amusement of BlackBerry fanboys, Google Book is now called Google Play Books.

Most of Google’s efforts took place on the Android Market website, which as far as I could see was just lacking a competent design. The product didn’t need a complete remodel; Android Market needed a new coat of paint and maybe some new window treatments. Apps were always the primary focus in Android Market. Now they share equal space with music, movies and books. Previously, the other content was buried in hard-to-see tabs, which likely didn’t result in high conversion rates, which likely prompted the new site.

The new branding also frees Google from the stigma that this content was just for Android. Instead of Android Market, it’s now Google Play, subtly signifying this distribution service is available for more than just mobile devices. But why not just call it Google Market? Same general idea with none of the mixed messages that the Google Play name sends.

In fact, the new name offers up a stigma of its own — the word “play” has obvious connotations with, well, games. Time wasters. Follies. Instead of using a catch-all term to signify the sheer variety of things that Google has laid out on a platter for their users, we’re left with a name that’s completely lacking in gravitas. Google Play Store sounds like a nifty place to hang out when you’re six, not a place to download useful apps or insightful books.

Google has a product problem. Sustainable long-term growth requires a steady hand and proper foresight. Even in 2008 it wasn’t unforeseeable that Google’s App Store competitor could eventually serve media as well as apps. If Android Market wasn’t the right branding for the job, then it shouldn’t have been used from the start.

Consumers aren’t dumb. They’ll manage to get their media fix just as they always have. That’s not the point. Google launched the Android Market three and a half years ago and it’s became nearly as ubiquitous as Apple’s App Store in the mobile space. The noun “market” implies a retail storefront where the verb “play” is just a punful play on words. It’s silly.


Google Play? What The Hell Was Wrong With Android Market?

play_logo

Google often confuses me. The company, with its thousands of genius employees, often makes the most brain-dead decisions. Just earlier today Google rolled out their latest twist on the Android Market — but it’s not called Android Market anymore. Instead of simply redesigning the e-store, Google also re-branded the whole thing to Google Play.

The reasoning is sound: the company wanted to better describe their offerings since it’s not just apps. The Play name is multifaceted, evoking thoughts of playing a game or pressing play on a media file. Cool. But most markets also sell more than one sort of good. The old name worked just as well.

Google has a problem with course changes. They often come suddenly and without much warning. It’s a side effect of Google’s philosophy of launching early and launching often. Google often releases a product and evolves it to match the market’s demand. That works when a product is just coming off the bench, but it’s a little late in the game to switch up one of Android’s major features.

As Chris pointed out today, along with the new name, Google Play also uses a completely new icon (it looks a lot like GoPlay’s, btw). Gone is the shopping bag as a colorful play button takes its place. Look for the update to hit your device within the next couple of days if it hasn’t already.

This re-branding affects other Google apps as well. Google Music is now called Google Play Music. Google Movies is now Google Play Movies. And, much to the amusement of BlackBerry fanboys, Google Book is now called Google Play Books.

Most of Google’s efforts took place on the Android Market website, which as far as I could see was just lacking a competent design. The product didn’t need a complete remodel; Android Market needed a new coat of paint and maybe some new window treatments. Apps were always the primary focus in Android Market. Now they share equal space with music, movies and books. Previously, the other content was buried in hard-to-see tabs, which likely didn’t result in high conversion rates, which likely prompted the new site.

The new branding also frees Google from the stigma that this content was just for Android. Instead of Android Market, it’s now Google Play, subtly signifying this distribution service is available for more than just mobile devices. But why not just call it Google Market? Same general idea with none of the mixed messages that the Google Play name sends.

In fact, the new name offers up a stigma of its own — the word “play” has obvious connotations with, well, games. Time wasters. Follies. Instead of using a catch-all term to signify the sheer variety of things that Google has laid out on a platter for their users, we’re left with a name that’s completely lacking in gravitas. Google Play Store sounds like a nifty place to hang out when you’re six, not a place to download useful apps or insightful books.

Google has a product problem. Sustainable long-term growth requires a steady hand and proper foresight. Even in 2008 it wasn’t unforeseeable that Google’s App Store competitor could eventually serve media as well as apps. If Android Market wasn’t the right branding for the job, then it shouldn’t have been used from the start.

Consumers aren’t dumb. They’ll manage to get their media fix just as they always have. That’s not the point. Google launched the Android Market three and a half years ago and it’s became nearly as ubiquitous as Apple’s App Store in the mobile space. The noun “market” implies a retail storefront where the verb “play” is just a punful play on words. It’s silly.


Google Play? What The Hell Was Wrong With Android Market?

play_logo

Google often confuses me. The company, with its thousands of genius employees, often makes the most brain-dead decisions. Just earlier today Google rolled out their latest twist on the Android Market — but it’s not called Android Market anymore. Instead of simply redesigning the e-store, Google also re-branded the whole thing to Google Play.

The reasoning is sound: the company wanted to better describe their offerings since it’s not just apps. The Play name is multifaceted, evoking thoughts of playing a game or pressing play on a media file. Cool. But most markets also sell more than one sort of good. The old name worked just as well.

Google has a problem with course changes. They often come suddenly and without much warning. It’s a side effect of Google’s philosophy of launching early and launching often. Google often releases a product and evolves it to match the market’s demand. That works when a product is just coming off the bench, but it’s a little late in the game to switch up one of Android’s major features.

As Chris pointed out today, along with the new name, Google Play also uses a completely new icon (it looks a lot like GoPlay’s, btw). Gone is the shopping bag as a colorful play button takes its place. Look for the update to hit your device within the next couple of days if it hasn’t already.

This re-branding affects other Google apps as well. Google Music is now called Google Play Music. Google Movies is now Google Play Movies. And, much to the amusement of BlackBerry fanboys, Google Book is now called Google Play Books.

Most of Google’s efforts took place on the Android Market website, which as far as I could see was just lacking a competent design. The product didn’t need a complete remodel; Android Market needed a new coat of paint and maybe some new window treatments. Apps were always the primary focus in Android Market. Now they share equal space with music, movies and books. Previously, the other content was buried in hard-to-see tabs, which likely didn’t result in high conversion rates, which likely prompted the new site.

The new branding also frees Google from the stigma that this content was just for Android. Instead of Android Market, it’s now Google Play, subtly signifying this distribution service is available for more than just mobile devices. But why not just call it Google Market? Same general idea with none of the mixed messages that the Google Play name sends.

In fact, the new name offers up a stigma of its own — the word “play” has obvious connotations with, well, games. Time wasters. Follies. Instead of using a catch-all term to signify the sheer variety of things that Google has laid out on a platter for their users, we’re left with a name that’s completely lacking in gravitas. Google Play Store sounds like a nifty place to hang out when you’re six, not a place to download useful apps or insightful books.

Google has a product problem. Sustainable long-term growth requires a steady hand and proper foresight. Even in 2008 it wasn’t unforeseeable that Google’s App Store competitor could eventually serve media as well as apps. If Android Market wasn’t the right branding for the job, then it shouldn’t have been used from the start.

Consumers aren’t dumb. They’ll manage to get their media fix just as they always have. That’s not the point. Google launched the Android Market three and a half years ago and it’s became nearly as ubiquitous as Apple’s App Store in the mobile space. The noun “market” implies a retail storefront where the verb “play” is just a punful play on words. It’s silly.


Goodbye Android Market, Hello Google Play

google-play-logo

Google’s Android Market has undergone some tremendous changes over the last year or so. What started as just a standalone app store has quickly grown to encompass e-books, music, videos, and now Google feels like the “Android Market” moniker is getting to be too restrictive, too constraining for what they’re really trying to deliver to their users.

That’s why Google is officially putting the Android Market name to rest. Starting today, all of Google’s digital media services have been rebranded to fly under a brand new banner: Google Play. That’s right gadget buffs, despite some delectable new rumors Google Play isn’t a new tablet from the folks at Mountain View, but rather a unified brand that seeks to tie the company’s digital media services together.

According to Google Engineering Director Chris Yerga, the rebranding was something Google has been contemplating for quite some time, but the company felt that this was the “natural time” to pull the trigger.

Google has spent months and months building out the Android Market into a digital media hub, but constantly invoking the Android name seems to have led to a sense of exclusion for some users. There’s nothing about the process of renting movie, purchasing music, or skimming through e-books from Google that requires anyone interested to actually own an Android device. All of a user’s pertinent media is stored in Google’s considerable cloud and accessible from run-of-the-mill web browsers, and Google wants to drive that point home with the new Google Play brand.

As the rebrand goes live, you’ll see that most of Google’s new cosmetic efforts come into play on the web. The Android Market website has been drastically revamped to place more emphasis on the rest of the digital media that Google offers users — instead of occupying small, easy to miss tabs along the top of the page, links to Google’s Books, Music, and Video subsections and related offers now occupy prime real estate at eye-level.

That isn’t to say that changes won’t take place on your Android device of choice too. The venerable Android Market will be renamed the Google Play Store, while similar name changes will go into effect for Google’s slew of playback apps — the Google Music app for example will now be called Google Play Music. Simple enough, right? In usual Google fashion, the updates for the affected apps will go live today and will continue to roll out over the next few days.

That’s pretty much it as far as changes to the device side go — Android users have been able to access Google’s catalog of books, movies, and songs from within the Android Market app ever since their most recent design change went into effect.

This new focus on uniting Google’s digital media services on the web underscores a key concept that the search giant is hoping to drive home — the media ecosystem that they’ve created isn’t just meant for Android devices, but for users of all stripes. Yerga tells me that Google’s intent with Google Play was to not only break down the “silos” that Google’s content types were lumped into, but also to “break down the barriers between content consumption and the store experience.”


Goodbye Android Market, Hello Google Play

google-play-logo

Google’s Android Market has undergone some tremendous changes over the last year or so. What started as just a standalone app store has quickly grown to encompass e-books, music, videos, and now Google feels like the “Android Market” moniker is getting to be too restrictive, too constraining for what they’re really trying to deliver to their users.

That’s why Google is officially putting the Android Market name to rest. Starting today, all of Google’s digital media services have been rebranded to fly under a brand new banner: Google Play. That’s right gadget buffs, despite some delectable new rumors Google Play isn’t a new tablet from the folks at Mountain View, but rather a unified brand that seeks to tie the company’s digital media services together.

According to Google Engineering Director Chris Yerga, the rebranding was something Google has been contemplating for quite some time, but the company felt that this was the “natural time” to pull the trigger.

Google has spent months and months building out the Android Market into a digital media hub, but constantly invoking the Android name seems to have led to a sense of exclusion for some users. There’s nothing about the process of renting movie, purchasing music, or skimming through e-books from Google that requires anyone interested to actually own an Android device. All of a user’s pertinent media is stored in Google’s considerable cloud and accessible from run-of-the-mill web browsers, and Google wants to drive that point home with the new Google Play brand.

As the rebrand goes live, you’ll see that most of Google’s new cosmetic efforts come into play on the web. The Android Market website has been drastically revamped to place more emphasis on the rest of the digital media that Google offers users — instead of occupying small, easy to miss tabs along the top of the page, links to Google’s Books, Music, and Video subsections and related offers now occupy prime real estate at eye-level.

That isn’t to say that changes won’t take place on your Android device of choice too. The venerable Android Market will be renamed the Google Play Store, while similar name changes will go into effect for Google’s slew of playback apps — the Google Music app for example will now be called Google Play Music. Simple enough, right? In usual Google fashion, the updates for the affected apps will go live today and will continue to roll out over the next few days.

That’s pretty much it as far as changes to the device side go — Android users have been able to access Google’s catalog of books, movies, and songs from within the Android Market app ever since their most recent design change went into effect.

This new focus on uniting Google’s digital media services on the web underscores a key concept that the search giant is hoping to drive home — the media ecosystem that they’ve created isn’t just meant for Android devices, but for users of all stripes. Yerga tells me that Google’s intent with Google Play was to not only break down the “silos” that Google’s content types were lumped into, but also to “break down the barriers between content consumption and the store experience.”


Google Adds A New Security Layer To The Android Market… A “Bouncer,” If You Will

bouncer.android

Android malware has been an issue over the past year. Granted, most of the numbers we see out of security software companies are inflated — including malicious apps from third-party sources and ignoring small download figures — but that’s not to say that we can just brush that dirt off our shoulders.

Google knows this, and has for a while. Despite the fact that downloads of malicious apps are down 40 percent between the first and second half of 2011, seeing that 14,000, 30,000, or even 260,000 devices have been affected by this or that malicious app requires action. That said, Google is adding a new security layer to the Android Market: codenamed Bouncer.

Originally, the Android market implemented three different methods for ridding the market of malware: sandboxing, permissions, and malware removal. Sandboxing keeps one app from infiltrating another, with one very important exception: permissions. Google sees its permissions system as a layer of security in and of itself, but permissions can actually be seen as a vulnerability. In some cases, the reasons behind the permissions a developer asks for aren’t immediately obvious to the user, and it can be tough to check everything, especially to the novice user.

Past that, Google’s always been good about removing malware from the market as soon as the company becomes aware of it, and in some cases, has even remotely wiped affected devices of malicious apps. The tool is a useful one to say the least, but it’s not enough.

Bouncer adds another level of security to the platform, automatically scanning new and existing apps for known bits of malicious code. Google has actually been scanning apps whenever new malicious code is discovered, but Bouncer will automate the process, scanning for known spyware and trojans, too. Bouncer runs every new application on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulates how it’ll run on a device. That way, Google can see straight away whether an app is misbehaving and flag it accordingly.

Another smart feature is that Bouncer isn’t 100 percent automated. Once something is flagged, there’s a manual process for confirming the app is indeed malicious, reducing the risk of false positives.

To be quite honest, the Android platform is way more secure than most people think. I spoke with Android VP of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer, and he seems to feel the same way. “There’s this impression that Android is a huge target for malware, and I really don’t think that’s the case,” said Lockheimer. Google polices the Market, scans for known malicious code (though most instances of flagging in the past have been from users notifying Google), and is quick to act when an issue pops up. But where the platform has fallen short (in one respect), is the developer registration process.

Becoming an Android developer is as easy as pie. I actually did it myself just to see how easy it is, and it literally takes five minutes and $25. After clicking accept a few times, you’re good to go. In fact, developers can register under pseudonyms if they’d like.

From a certain perspective, this is amazing. It allows young entrepreneurs to offer a product to millions of users for a very low cost, lowering the bar for developers who can’t afford to jump through Apple’s hoops. At the same time, it makes it easy for malware writers to get the ball rolling.

Sophos blogger Vanja Svajcer said it best:

The requirements for becoming an Android developer that can publish apps to the Android Market are far too relaxed. The cost of becoming a developer and being banned by Google is much lower than the money that can be earned by publishing malicious apps. The attacks on the Android Market will continue as long as the developer requirements stay too relaxed.

With Bouncer, Google is recognizing this issue without making things difficult on developers. Devs will still be able to submit an app and see it in search results within minutes — Bouncer’s scanning process only takes seconds — and they’ll still be able to register for $25 and a few clicks on “Accept.”

But… now that Bouncer is in place, previous offenders will have a much more difficult time sneaking back on to the platform by registering under a new name. According to Google’s blog post, the search giant will be “analyzing new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.”

This is what I believe will make the biggest difference when it comes to the threat of Android malware, and I’m more than thrilled that the company is making it a priority moving forward.


Infographic: Google Goes Wild With Android Market Stats

android-market-stats

Google’s been celebrating their recent Android Market milestone with a string of discounted (and awesome) apps, but really — what’s a celebration without an infographic? Thankfully, Google has come through on that front with a slew of stats about the Android Market and the people who use it.

For example, despite Android being the most widely used smartphone OS in the United States, Americans are actually only the fourth most active app downloaders in the world. South Korea takes the top spot in this category, with Hong Kong and Taiwan coming in second and third respectively.

What’s more, the most popular time to download apps is 9PM on a Sunday, which certainly makes sense to me. After all, what better way to get pumped for a new week than to find apps that help kill time at work? Google also confirms that games are the most downloaded apps, although Android users don’t seem to be particularly big sports fans.

There’s a lot more to dig into, so take a few seconds and peruse — you know you’re dying to find out how many keystrokes people have collectively saved using SwiftKey.


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