Google is joining in on the Black Friday festivities by announcing its Google Play store Cyber Weekend Deals on Friday. Android users can find great deals on music, books, TV, movies, and apps. Some of the best deals on the Google Play store include Kanye West’s Yeezus for $1.99, and each Lord of the Rings movie for $1.99. In addition, is offering a $25 Google Play store credit for anyone who buys a Nexus 7, which is unfortunately itself not on sale. Google did not specify how long this particular deal will last, only saying that it is “for a limited time.” Google’s Nexus 7 deal is similar to Apple’s Black Friday offer of Apple gift cards instead of discounts with the purchase of Apple hardware.
The Google Play Store is starting to take tablet apps seriously. Announced last month on the Android Developers Blog and spotted on Friday by Android Police, the Google Play Store is now only showing tablet-optimized apps in its top lists when accessed through a tablet. Apps that are not optimized for tablets will receive a “Designed for phones” tag, on the other hand. The Google Play Store has always lagged behind the iOS App Store in terms of tablet apps, so this move should encourage app developers to optimize more of their apps for tablets. More →
Even though Google doesn’t make money directly from sales of Android devices, it does benefit financially when more mobile subscribers use its online services and when they download apps from its Google Play app store. Barron’s flags a note from Citigroup analyst Mark May, who projects Google Play revenues will have compounded annual growth of 43% over the next four years and will grow from $1.3 billion in 2013 to $5.2 billion in 2017. Things look even better for Google when you factor in app-related ads, which May thinks will help Google Play generate a “$3.2 billion in total revenue contribution in 2014 and $7.2 billion in 2017.” In part because of this increased Google Play revenue, May raises his price target on Google shares from $1,025 all the way up to $1,190.
Yet another music streaming service has arrived on iOS devices, primed to duke it out for the top spot against Pandora and iTunes Radio. That service is Google Play Music, which has been available to Android users for years, but finally launched on the App Store on Friday. Google Play Music differentiates itself by allowing users to access up to 20,000 songs from their personal music collections over the cloud and even store their favorites for offline listening. The app also has a monthly subscription service dubbed All Access, which gives users unlimited access to millions of songs and custom radio stations based on their favorite artists, albums or songs. Everyone who signs up for All Access is entitled to a 30-day free trial. Once that expires, the service will cost $9.99 per month. More →
The explosive growth of mobile apps isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. According to research company Gartner, 102 billion apps will be downloaded from mobile app stores in 2013, nearly 40 billion more downloads than 2012. Total revenue of app downloads is also expected to increase from $18 billion last year to $26 billion by the end of 2013. Although Gartner‘s projections show continuous growth through 2017, the rate of growth is expected to slow starting next year. More →
Yes, there are downsides to Google’s policy of letting anyone publish their apps on Google Play. Symantec has found that scammers published almost 1,000 fraudulent apps on Google Play in August alone, most of which were deleted within hours of posting on the store. But even though Google was quick to delete the fraudulent Android apps, Symantec estimates that they were still downloaded more than 10,000 times. Symantec also says that one group is responsible for 97% of the fraudulent apps, which typically “include numerous links to various online adult-related sites, but one or two links actually lead to fraudulent sites that attempt to con people into paying a fee without properly signing them up for the paid service.”
According to new July figures from app analytics firm Distimo, Google Play’s app revenue has now increased by an impressive 67% since the start of the year. This includes a torrid 11% month-over-month app revenue growth during July alone. In comparison, the iOS platform’s app revenue has grown by just 15% so far this year and by 3% during July. One sign of Google Play’s emerging powerhouse status is that the combined app revenue generated by Japan and South Korea now matches that of the United States. The sudden Android app revenue growth spike of the past 12 months has turned Asia’s two leading countries into globally significant app markets. More →
Google Play’s All Access service is one of the better music streaming deals out there. It lets users upload up to 20,000 of their own songs onto Google’s cloud while also giving them unlimited streaming access to the millions of songs in the Google Play library for just $9.99 per month. And now, Billboard reports that Google is working out a deal with Verizon to bundle All Access subscriptions in with Verizon users’ wireless bills. Billboard’s sources say that Google wants to “leverage Verizon’s existing billing relationship with its customers, making the payment process as frictionless as possible” so that mobile users are given the option of adding an All Access subscription to their Verizon plan that will cost them a little extra each month.
The new App Annie-IDC report on portable gaming is out and one graph stands out in particular: According to the report, microtransactions have grown to 51% of total portable game revenue from 40% in just one year. This means that in-app purchases now generate ten times the sales that game advertising does and notably more than pre-paid games across both smartphones and consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS and the PS Vita. More →
Carriers and manufacturers have been slow to update their devices to the latest version of Android, with only 4% of devices running Android 4.2. The latest version of Android includes a variety of improvements to the keyboard, camera app, lock screen and the introduction of quick settings in the notification bar. The new keyboard added gesture typing as well as features like text-to-speech, voice typing, auto-correct, word predictions and more. Likely disappointed that most Android users couldn’t experience it, Google on Wednesday released the stock Android keyboard in the Play store for free. Regardless of whether you are running Sense, TouchWiz or another third-party user interface, you will now have access to the stock Android keyboard. The Google Keyboard is available for devices running Android 4.0 or higher and includes all the typing improvements found in Android 4.2.
Google’s Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai confirmed that Google has no plans to abandon its Nexus program. The executive confirmed at the AllThingsD: D11 conference on Thursday that Google will continue to make dedicated Nexus hardware with its manufacturing partners. He noted that the idea of the Nexus program was to not only “guide the ecosystem,” but also to push hardware to a new level. The news comes after Pichai revealed a new Google Edition of the HTC One that runs a stock version of Android. The smartphone will be the second non-Nexus device running stock Android that is offered through Google Play. The company previously announced a Google Edition version of the Galaxy S4 at its I/O Developers Conference earlier this month. Both phones will launch on June 26th.
Google has long been rumored to be developing a Game Center rival for Android smartphones and tablets. Information from a new Google Play Services file, which was obtained and broken down by Android Police, indicates that Google Play Games isn’t too far off. The service appears to include a number of interesting features such as multiplay support, cloud syncing, matchmaking and game invites, achievements, a leaderboard and even support for in-game chatting. All the social aspects of the service are expected to be managed by Google+, allowing users to chat and share achievements with specific friends and followers. Google is expected to announce its new Play Games service on Wednesday at its I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Earlier this year, Google began a trial program to allow select Android developers the opportunity to respond to their critics on the Play Store. The company announced on Monday that the ability to reply to app reviews has now been expanded to all Google Play developers. Ellie Powers of the Google Play team notes that ever since connecting Play Store reviews with Google+ profiles, the quality of reviews has “increased tremendously.” There are still some times when a customer is left unsatisfied, however, and allowing a developer to respond to feedback will only make for a better application. More →