Google Play launches as online entertainment hub

Google Play
Google Play

(CBS News) Google launched Google Play Tuesday - an entertainment hub which will house movies, music, e-books, games and apps in one location.

Full coverage of Google at Tech Talk

"Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play," Jamie Rosenberg, director of digital content said in a blog post.

Google Play is cloud-based, which means everything you buy or rent will be stored online. The search engine giant hopes to make moving from the web to Android devices a seamless experience. Anyone with a Google account will be able to sign in can start shopping immediately.

The music section of Google Play is essentially Google Music renamed. In Google Play music you can store up to 20,000 songs for free. If you've already activated Google Music, all of your music will already be online. 

Perhaps the newest addition to the Google family is movie rentals, which adds another big name in the movie streaming arena to compete with Apple iTunes Store and Amazon Instant Video.

One of the most peculiar changes is the switch from the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app on Android phones or tablets.

"While a phenomenally successful platform with broad adoption, Android Market has struggled to generate the kind of revenue Apple's App Store sees with its apps," said CNET's Greg Sandoval and Roger Cheng.

Why is that? Google offers much of the same services that Apple or Amazon do, but the brand doesn't seem to be a reactionary "go-to" market place for consumers. And consider the amount of Google account holders. According to a Jan. 2012 earnings call, Google reported 350 million active Gmail users.

The shift to unify the services in Google Play will make it easier for consumers to refer to one name, like the iTunes Store or Amazon, rather than the disjointed Google Music, Android Market and Google eBookstore brands.