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Google Play: Needed Upgrade or Disastrous Marketing Move?

Friday 9th March 2012 by Shane O'Hare

Three days ago Google made a push to make it’s online store more like Apples. You may have noticed on your phone when you opened the marketplace you were greeted with a prompt to upgrade to Google Play. Like most, you probably just hit yes and moved on but what is really changing and what do these changes mean for you.

If we watch the hipster fueled marketing video we get the very basic understanding of what the Play change is. It centralizes and aggregates your “Google experience”. Instead of having your Google: Video, Market, Books, Apps and Music market places and accounts, you will access everything through your Play account.

Now the boffins over at Google have been pretty good with the apps and games on the Android platform. If you get a new device and log in with your account, all the stuff you bought and downloaded on the previous device will automatically start downloading right away, even the friggin backround is saved. So their big push to make the move to Play is to unify their Music and Movies market.

For the longest time the two sites were connected but still separate by having different features and access. Google music lets you upload a very LARGE collection of songs to their cloud service as it stands, and leading up to the Play name change were offering crazy cheap deals on songs an albums. On the Movie side, they offer rentals and purchases of films and television yadda yadda yadda more of the same.

The saving grace of the Android Marketplace was that it wasn’t Apple. It brought a compelling removal of the evil locked down monolith that the I-Devices brought, and that all changed when they moved to Play.

If you have an Android device that is rooted, like a good majority of people have (Cyanogen users being the most prevalent.) then you are kind of screwed. Any rentals or purchases on the Play Movies store on a rooted device will not play. They will take your money just fine but when it comes to actually consuming the content you paid money for you get a nice little warning

Well shit. Looks like in the sideways move to be more and less like Apple at the same time they’ve gone and fucked it all up. Couple that with certain Motorola devices telling Play that they are rooted when they are not Google inadvertently gave the middle finger to some of the most influential users on their devices. Geeks. Another prime example of being considered guilty before trial. All rooted users are evil pirates!

Then you have the NON-Geeks. The everyday users who bought a HTC phone from ATT when they updated their package or those who got a cheapy Android smartphone when they got upsold at Verizon. Those people have no idea what is going on.

Check out this collection of confused consumers.

Now I know what you’re thinking, those people are idiots. They are, they had to click “YES I AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND PLAY”, but these people are the ones who are most likely going to be using your market. When a Geek goes on the marketplace they usually are going there to get something specific, an app or game they were told about by another.

These consumers are easily swayed by commercials and blind marketing. The slightest problem with their Android and they will fly out and get an iPhone. Take my mother as a prime example. She had been complaining about issues with her Samsung Galaxy. Said she wants to get an iPhone 4 because it lets her “do the zoomy thing”. Holding her phone I showed her that the multi touch gesture she was thinking of also worked on her Galaxy she “Just didnt think of trying it”.

So…whats the end game for Play? The centralized content management has worked in the past with Apps and Music. If they can knock the bugs out of the rooted devices issue and figure out why Motorola hates them, then they should be “A+ Would Do Business With Again” status with geeks in a heart beat. The marketing issues will still be there. Doing a hard flip the switch on the unaware or people who are just click happy and agree to any TOS was horribly stupid. As in Microsoft BOB stupid.

I guess it’s a time will tell story. Will the features work themselves out? Will the advent of centralized code actually be a good thing? Myself, having a Nexus One with Cyanogen Mod 7 on it, I am facing the same issues the other geeks are having. Though I never really found the need to have movies or content like movies on my phone, I’m just mad because I can’t. It’s like owning a gun, sometimes you do just because you can, and GOD DAMMIT I WANT DRM FREE JERSEY SHORE!