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What is ‘Google Play'?

Google has apparently been on something of a domain name shopping spree this week, and a common theme is evident across the many domains that have been registered: a new product called ‘Google Play’.

The registrations were spotted by Fusible, who published the full list of domains:

  • appsonplay.com
  • booksonplay.com
  • gamesonplay.com
  • googleplayapps.com
  • googleplaybooks.com
  • googleplaydownloads.com
  • googleplaygames.com
  • googleplaymagazines.com
  • googleplaymovies.com
  • googleplaymusic.com
  • googleplaynewspapers.com
  • googleplaynewsstand.com
  • googleplaytv.com
  • googleplayvideos.com
  • magazinesonplay.com
  • moviesonplay.com
  • newspapersonplay.com
  • tvonplay.com

Curiously, the URL ‘googleplay.com’ wasn’t part of the list, and is currently registered to another owner. Fusible notes that none of the domains in the list is registered to Google directly, but rather through a proxy called MarkMonitor, which offers anonymised registration services to Google, as well as other companies. While this appears to cast doubt on whether or not these domains have been registered for Google, it’s unlikely that any other company would wish to acquire such a comprehensive selection of domains based around the same brand, particularly when many include the Google name.

So, if we assume for now that Google is indeed behind the registrations, just what is Google Play?

One suggestion that seems to fit quite nicely is that it may be the name for Google’s widely anticipated new tablet. The content that the domains refer to – apps, books, games, newspapers, movies, music and TV – all seem to fit fairly well with a tablet as the consumption device. Popularly referred to as the ‘Nexus tablet’, it’s possible that Google would reserve its Nexus branding for its phone handsets, with its tablet coming under the ‘Play’ brand – although the generic nature of that brand name may present some challenges to Google in terms of trademarks, and may even expose the company to legal action from other companies already using that moniker on their products.

One other aspect worth considering is that some of these domains would appear to duplicate those of Google’s existing services, such as googleplayvideos.com (isn’t YouTube Google’s video outlet?) and googleplaymusic.com (Google Music is apparently struggling enough without having to compete with an in-house service too).

Things are far from clear at the moment, but with Google’s new tablet expected as soon as April, it shouldn’t be too long before we understand how everything fits together.

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