Though media reports out of Google's I/O developer conference have buzzed with news of the Nexus 7 tablet , Google Glasses and the next Android OS, industry observers say the company's Google Play store is the centerpiece of its evolving device strategy.
In one way or another, every major I/O 2012 session Wednesday was related to Google Play, formerly known as Android Market. For example, the online store is expanding to include popular magazines such as House Beautiful, Men's Health, Shape and Wired, and users can also purchase movies via Google Play in addition to renting them.
"And we're adding television shows on Google Play -- [including] thousands of episodes of broadcast and cable TV shows," said Andy Rubin, senior vice president of Mobile and Digital Content at Google.
Forrester Research Vice President James McQuivey said Google wanted to create a content platform that tied together all its ragtag content and app experiences into a single customer relationship.
"The power of the platform is the only power that will matter," McQuivey said in a blog post Wednesday. "The newly announced Nexus 7, as a device, is from its inception subservient to the experiences -- some of them truly awesome -- that Google's Play platform can provide through it."
It's All About the Experience
Google also introduced new tools and marketing strategies for Google Play that aim to make the online store a more attractive venue for application developers. Among other things, Google demoed a beta release of a developer console that will help app creators see how their products are performing across multiple device platforms.
McQuivey believes that Google's success or failure in the mobile hardware business -- and the home entertainment space with the Nexus Q streaming media player -- will not depend on flashy devices at attractive price points or connection enhancements.
"The tight integration of content experiences -- music, video, games, and apps -- into the device is the new de facto model for selling consumer electronics of all shapes and sizes," McQuivey said.
"It's Amazon's strategy with the Kindle Fire, and it's actually the same strategy Apple has used to ensure that its iPad is not only popular but essential for many consumers," McQuivey said. (continued...)