If you have an Android phone or tablet, you've already seen that Google has re-branded its Android Market as "Google Play." You know this because your alphabetical list of apps was suddenly shaken up and salted with a whole bunch of newly named stuff. There's "Play Music" (hey, that works), "Play Books" (weird, but, okay), and, most significantly, "Play Store." The Market is gone; now you must Play.
It's a deliberate shake-up aimed at consumers which doesn't say much about Google's recognition of its Apps and enterprise customers.
Market versus Store
You could have a dorm-room argument about the implications of a "Market" versus a "Store," and all the freshman Psychology, Sociology, and Marketing Communications students would all argue right and wrong until they got bored.
But it's obvious that Google wants to get people away from thinking of their books, music, and movies as something that's only available for Android owners, and to tie their Android apps into their larger offerings. Which is fair, especially because the Play Store isn't just an iTunes Store under a different banner. In Google fashion, you can read books, listen to music, and watch movies right in your browser, or download them for offline access onto your devices.
So Google hopes that the Play transition speaks to people looking to entertain themselves, but it also speaks to a certain lack of interest in helping enterprises manage their own set of enterprise-wide apps.
As previously noted in this space, Microsoft is promising full support for customized, intra-company Windows Store, and Apple offers at least a way of distributing apps to corporate iPhones and iPads, even if it's mostly up to the company to maintain the server and software. In the case of Apple-based enterprises, CIOs at medium to big firms not only have to set up their own server, but they also have to get their employees to install customized "non-Market apps," or at least figure out a security certificate policy that makes phones and tablets feel a bit less magical.
However, there's nothing said in the Google Play explanation site about Google Apps users at all, let alone about new ways of managing apps across company devices.
Maybe a business-side upgrade or augmentation of the Play system is on its way. Perhaps Google is all-in on the "Bring Your Own Device" trend, and believes the open web and a mostly open store are the best ways to make both companies and customers happy. But it looks more like Google is more interested in getting folks to Play than in pleasing the enterprise market.
Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.