Google is mostly known for search, but it has much more to offer. Thatâ€™s obvious when you visit the Google Play Store, a digital market full of content. Letâ€™s take a look at what it is and how it started.
Android Market: Where the Play Store Started
The Google Play Store started life as the â€œAndroid Marketâ€� in 2008. It launched alongside the very first Android devices, and its purpose was to distribute apps and games. Thatâ€™s it.
The Android Market was extremely basic at the beginning. It didnâ€™t support paid apps and games until 2009. However, as the Android platform grew, so did the Android Market. By 2012, it featured over 450,000 Android apps and games.
By this time, Googleâ€™s ecosystem had expanded greatly compared to the humble beginnings of the Android Market. In fact, the Android Market was just one of the companyâ€™s online markets.
Three Stores in One
The creation of the Google Play Store in 2012 was the culmination of three separate online markets that Google was running at the time. It combined the Android Market, the Google Music Store, and the Google eBookstore.
The Google eBookstore launched in 2010 with over three million eBooks. Despite the large library, it was mostly filled with public domain titles and scans. Google Music launched in 2011 in beta, and while fans loved the local uploading feature, its library of music to purchase wasnâ€™t big.
Unlike Android apps and games, the Google Music and eBook stores arenâ€™t exclusive to Android phones and tablets. Google was taking the same approach as Apple, which keeps the App Store, Apple Books, and iTunes as separate entities. However, Googleâ€™s stores werenâ€™t nearly as popular, despite having wider availability.
To more accurately reflect the scope of what Google had to offer, all three stores were combined under the â€œGoogle Playâ€� brand. The eBookstore became â€œGoogle Play Booksâ€� and Google Music became â€œGoogle Play Music,â€� all found in the Play Store.
The Google Store Branches off
The Play Store is a digital marketplace. However, it used to sell physical devices, too. For a brief time, Google sold Nexus devices, Chromecasts, and Chromebooks through a â€œDevicesâ€� tab on the Play Store.
At the time, this was the only place that Google had to sell goods. As the companyâ€™s hardware efforts grew, it was time for a new store. The Google Store was created in 2015 for the companyâ€™s hardware, and the â€œDevicesâ€� tab on the Play Store now directs to that instead.
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Google Play Today
Nowadays, the Google Play Store is home to Android apps and games, movies and TV shows, eBooks, and audiobooks. Google Play Music has been depreciated in favor of YouTube Music.
The Play Store is installed on Android phones and tablets as the central location for downloading and purchasing content. It can also be found on Android TV and Google TV streaming sticks, set-top boxes, and smart televisions. If a device runs Android, it will almost certainly include the Play Store.
Meanwhile, the Play Storeâ€™s other content areas, such as Google Play Books and Google TV/Play Movies & TV, are available on other platforms, such as the iPhone and iPad. The Google Play Store can be accessed anywhere through a web browser as well.
If youâ€™re interested in a digital good from Google, the Play Store is where youâ€™ll want to go.