Google rebrands Android Market as Google Play, does another sale to round up credit cards

Google rebranded Android Market as Google Play today to showcase the company’s recent forays into other types of digital content like movies, music and books. Google Play is now a single destination for apps, games, movies, music and books, in the way that the iTunes store has also hosted songs, podcasts and TV shows for several years. The company says Google Play is based on the same back-end that Android Market was, so developers don’t really have to do anything differently than they were before.

“We believe that with a strong brand, compelling offerings, and a seamless purchasing and consumption experience, Google Play will drive more traffic and revenue to the entire ecosystem,” the company said in a blog post today.

This might add to concerns that Google is featuring other types of content at the expense of visibility for apps. But Google says it won’t show favoritism toward one type of content over another.

“As we grow and promote Google Play around the world, we’ll be marketing your apps and games at the same time,” the company said. “Our policies have not changed and our goal is still the same — to create a great, open marketplace for distributing Android apps.”

To celebrate the rebranding, Google is doing another sale, a trick it used when Android Market surpassed 10 billion downloads and the company cut certain paid apps to 10 cents. This time around, select apps will go for 49 cents while Disney’s Where’s My Water will go for 25 cents.

Given Android’s historical weakness with delivering downloads of paid apps, this is a way for the company to round-up more credit cards. The more payments data it has, the more frictionless it will be for Android-owning consumers to pay for digital content in the future. We heard the last sale performed reasonably well from sources, bringing payments data on an additional 1 million consumers.

Both Google and Facebook are making big pushes around digital media content this year. While these industries don’t have quite the same profit margins that gaming businesses do, they have the potential to convert non-gamers into paying customers.

Because Apple started the iTunes store about a decade ago around the premise of music and only later graduated to TV shows, movies and apps, it was able to steadily grow a dedicated base of paying users. Google and Facebook are coming in the opposite direction, starting with games first and then migrating into music and media.