Google Play must compete with Apple, Amazon for content marketing

by Kristen Nicole

It’s already been quite a week in the mobile world, with significant developments coming from both Android and iOS. Stealing a bit of Apple’s thunder, Google revealed Google Play, the new Android Market, just before Apple’s annual event kicks off today. With expectations for the next gen iPad to be revealed today, both Android and iOS emphasize their respective content marketplaces, growing around a broad selection of devices, apps and more.

Google Play’s release is more significant in concept than changes made to Android’s actual marketplace, accentuating the variety of content available to mobile users. It’s a branding move, extending the mobile content experience beyond apps to include Google’s e-bookstore, movie house and music service. Yes, these things were already wrapped into the Android Market, but it’s all a little more integrated now. Buy a game on your desktop, and you’ll find it available on your smartphone. Your content is centralized in one place, regardless of what device you’re using.

A push for premium content purchases

The revamped Google Play is competing with the iTunes App Store and the Amazon Appstore in a whole new way, reiterating the content angle and presenting a cohesive marketplace to encourage purchases. But with the possible unveiling of the iPad 3 today, Apple may be upping the ante on its content offerings as well. A new Catalogs category was introduced to the App Store last night, hinting at a possible announcement related to interactive catalogs on the iPad as part of Apple’s big event. While the Catalogs launch seems to be premature, considering it has no popular apps listed and has yet to appear in all categories for the App Store, it’s conjectured that Catalogs may be a way to show off the Retina Display expected for the next gen iPad. Apple’s made quite an impact in digital retail, completely revolutionizing how we buy media, from music to publications, reshaping industries around a mobile-centric distribution channel.

Now that we’ve established Android and iOS and dominating players in the OS realm, the battle moves on to mobile content marketplaces. And for good reason. Mobile content usage is up on both Android and iOS, with 74 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers using text messaging on their device, up 2.8 percentage points since January 2012, while 48.6 percent downloaded apps (up 4.8 percentage points), reports comScore. Browser usage is also on the rise, increasing by 4.5 percentage points to 48.5 percent of mobile subscribers, while gaming occupies 31.8 percent, up 2.6 percentage points. And mobile music? It’s up 3.3 percentage points, taking up 24.5 percent of the mobile market.

Android-Apple peace talks?

But perhaps the biggest “change” in mobile news this week (so far) is Apple’s softening heart. Apple is reportedly negotiating licensing deals with Android manufacturers, taking a cue from Microsoft to merely earn royalties from patent use instead of redundant court battles. The Register attributes Apple’s latest tactic to Steve Jobs’ death, saying the path is now clear for Apple-Android peace talks. Apple could earn up to $15 per Android device sold, extending the iPhone maker’s potential revenue far beyond its own limited device lineup. It could also put increasing pressure on Android OEMs, which may have to increase device prices to cover the rising licensing costs to competing platforms.