Google adding e-books to Android Market

by Phil Hornshaw

Android owners were probably a bit disappointed that the rumor of an Android Market music store to drop with Honeycomb didn’t pan out, seeing as the Motorola Xoom and Honeycomb are here, but no Google Music service.

But that doesn’t mean the music store isn’t happening, it’s just not here yet, as evidenced by the fact that the Android Market’s e-book portal has gone live.

Here’s the lowdown, according to Engadget: Rumors were bouncing around in the last week because two new Market-related URLs popped up on the Internet: http://market.android.com/music/ and http://market.android.com/movies/. That prompted some speculation about Android closing the gap on similar services available to iOS users through Apple’s iTunes software. We were hearing that the music store was going to drop with Honeycomb, but obviously that didn’t materialize.

But a third URL, http://market.android.com/books/, is now live and selling e-books to Android users on the web-based Market, and that suggests that the music and movies portals probably aren’t too far behind.

As we reported a few days ago, the rumor on the Android music store front is that record companies are balking at the idea of making music available in a “new format” -- Google’s (GOOG) cloud-based system that would allow users to buy songs and store them online, then stream or download them to multiple devices. Reportedly, Google’s working on buttering up the record companies to get them to go for the streaming idea.

But obviously, there’s something to those URLs. We’ll keep paying attention to get the latest on when Android users might be treated to some cool new content. Meantime, warm up your Motorola (MMI) Xoom sync with some e-books.

Mobile gaming has surpassed consoles, handhelds

Expect to see more Android titles with cross-platform compatibility and more partnerships between traditional video gaming and mobile gaming, because it seems (if you hadn’t heard) that mobile is very much the future.

A new report from analysis firm Flurry suggests that mobile gamers number about 250 million, which is more than the audiences of the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and the Nintedo Wii -- 180 million, taken all together. That story comes from Fone Home.

Some key numbers from the Flurry analysis: 37 percent of all apps downloaded onto mobile devices are games, and the demographic of mobile gamers ranges from 18 to 49, where video game consoles usually attract players from 18 to 34. Mobile gamers are also more female than male by a ratio of 53 percent to 47 percent. That’s vastly different than traditional video gaming, where the demographics skew much more to the male end of the spectrum.

That pretty much suggests that a shift toward mobile gaming by the heavy hitters in the game industry is on the horizon, if they haven’t already embraced it. Sony has the Xperia Play, console and PC developer Epic Games has Infinity Blade, Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Capcom have big mobile gaming catalogues. I wouldn’t be surprised if more developers start taking Microsoft’s (MSFT) approach with Windows Phone 7, which pushes connectivity between mobile games and consoles games on the company’s Xbox 360.

So keep downloading mobile games -- it should shortly be leading to all kinds of cool innovation for gamers, on all fronts.