Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore under one brand, marking a shift in Google’s digital distribution strategy. The services operating under the Google Play banner are: Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Google Play Newsstand. Following their rebranding, Google has gradually expanded the geographical support for each of the services.
As of 2017, Google Play features over 3.5 million Android applications. Users in over 145 countries can purchase apps, although Google notes on its support pages that “Paid content may not be available in some provinces or territories, even if the governing country is listed above.” Developers in over 150 locations can distribute apps on Google Play, though not every location supports merchant registration. To distribute apps, developers have to pay a one-time $25 registration fee for a Google Play Developer Console account. App developers can control which countries an app is distributed to, as well as the pricing for the app and in-app purchases in each country. Developers receive 70% of the application price, while the remaining 30% goes to the distribution partner and operating fees. Developers can set up sales, with the original price struck out and a banner underneath informing users when the sale ends. Google Play allows developers to release early versions of apps to a select group of users, as alpha or beta tests.
Google Play Games is an online gaming service for Android that features real-time multiplayer gaming capabilities, cloud saves, social and public leaderboards, and achievements. The service was introduced at the Google I/O 2013 Developer Conference, and the standalone mobile app was launched on July 24, 2013.
Google Play Music is a music and podcast streaming service and online music locker. It features over 40 million songs, and gives users free cloud storage of up to 50,000 songs.
As of May 2017, Google Play Music is available in 64 countries.
Google Play Books is an ebook digital distribution service. Google Play offers over five million ebooks available for purchase, and users can also upload up to 1,000 of their own ebooks in the form of PDF or EPUB file formats.
As of January 2017, Google Play Books is available in 75 countries.
Movies and TV shows:
Google Play Movies & TV is a video on demand service offering movies and television shows available for purchase or rental, depending on availability.
As of January 2017, movies are available in over 110 countries, while TV shows are available only in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
News publications and magazines:
Google Play Newsstand is a news aggregator and digital newsstand service offering subscriptions to digital magazines and topical news feeds.
As of January 2017, the basic Newsstand service, with topical news feeds, is available worldwide. Paid Newsstand content is available in over 35 countries.
Google Play, before March 2015, had a Devices section for users to purchase Google Nexus devices, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, other Google-branded hardware, and accessories. A separate online hardware retailer called the Google Store was introduced on March 11, 2015, replacing the Devices section of Google Play.