So I open up my web browser this evening and I see a big red piece of text screaming “New!” on top of the Google bar. You might have seen it too, and I’m sure you’re not alone in asking, “what the fuck is this Google Play shit they’re forcing on us now?”
We all remember Google Buzz and Google Wave. Actually, most of us don’t – and that’s because they were miserable failures. Google Plus could be heading that way, too, especially because it just doesn’t seem to be adopted by all too many people besides Google employees.
Anyway, my morbid curiosity was piqued, and I clicked through, watched the slick PR video, and started exploring – and was kind of disappointed. It’s just Google’s take on iCloud, really, though it’s less gimmicky and more well integrated, which is what I’d expect from even a new Google feature that might be doomed to failure.
Google play may well pass through the moribund trajectory that Wave and Buzz took before crashing and burning, simply because it’s got full Android smartphone and tablet integration. What this means is they pretty much just re-named Android Market and plugged it into the Google Play site, where you can manage your Android apps, kind of like how you can manage your iOS apps through iTunes – only you don’t have to download a stand-alone program to do it.
It’s not just Android apps that you can get through Google Play, though – it’s also a marketplace for music, e-books, and movie rentals. The music and e-book store is just Google Music and Google Books re-skinned and integrated under the Google Play banner, while movies are available for rent from YouTube’s pay service.
There’s a lot to like here, especially the integration under one space, the fact that you’ve got an absolutely retarded amount of storage on Google’s battalion of cloud servers, and the capability to upload as many as 20,000 of your music files on your computer – whether they be in MP3 format or locked away in your iTunes folders – in order to make them available to wherever you can log into Google Play. That part is pretty awesome. The seamless integration sounds pretty fuckin’ boss too, but as I don’t have an Android device – hell, I don’t even have a smartphone, and my fiancée and I share a 3rd generation iPod Touch that we bought like two and a half years ago – I can’t really comment on how well it actually works in practice. If any of you have an Android device, you might wanna check out Google Play and tell me if it’s shit or not.
The one thing that really made me scratch my head was the way they’re handling movie rentals through Google Play. While I like the idea of streaming movie rentals, and the selection available on Google Play seems to be a bit more expansive than the streaming content available to Netflix customers, the prices are absolutely and completely fucked. The standard Google Play Movies rental price is around $3.99, from what I’ve seen – and that gives you a 24 hour rental that you can watch either on the web through the Play site or through the Google Play app on an Android device.
Now maybe I’m just a cheap asshole but paying nearly 4 bucks for a 24 hour rental is more or less bullshit. The stripped-down streaming-only version of Netflix is $7.99 a month, and for roughly the same amount of money that would get you two Google Play Movie rentals, you can get unlimited streaming – albeit from a limited selection. Google Play Movies does offer new releases, but the prices go up to absolutely stupid-high levels. I mean, do you really need to see the newest Seann William Scott shitfest The Goon so badly before it hits theaters that you’re willing to pay $9.99? If you are, you’re probably high as a motherfucker – and you’re also probably firmly in the demographic for this movie, so in that case pass the dutchie, hit the closest Wawa for snacks, and then order yourself what I’m sure will be the finest hockey-based cinema since Slap Shot.
I don’t know, maybe rich assholes will adopt Google Play Movies. I can’t see anyone else willing to spend such high prices for such a short rental term, at least not on a regular basis. It’s kind of how the cable companies offer Video On Demand services for new release movies – in fact, the prices are pretty similar, and the rental terms are more or less identical – and with cable companies cutting deals with distributors in order to fuck over their competitors, there’ll always be that schmuck that’s too baked to go down to their local Walmart to return his overdue DVDs. I’ll admit that when there’s nothing new on Netflix and the weather’s pouring down rain the last thing I want to do is go out to see what they’ve got available at the Redbox kiosk; in situations like these, I’ve made one or two purchases from my cable provider’s VOD service.
Does Google Play make a compelling argument for picking up an Android device over an iOS one sometime in the future? I don’t know – maybe? I’d like a smartphone or a tablet sometime in the future, though with saving up for a wedding this November, I don’t see me plunking down the money on a big, fancy toy – I guess it remains to be seen if Google Play is still around by the time I get my shit together.