Google Play Store Logo
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Google is mostly known for search, but it has much more to offer. That’s obvious when you visit the Google Play Store, a digital market full of content. Let’s take a look at what it is and how it started.

Android Market: Where the Play Store Started

The Google Play Store started life as the “Android Market” in 2008. It launched alongside the very first Android devices, and its purpose was to distribute apps and games. That’s it.

The Android Market was extremely basic at the beginning. It didn’t support paid apps and games until 2009. However, as the Android platform grew, so did the Android Market. By 2012, it featured over 450,000 Android apps and games.

By this time, Google’s ecosystem had expanded greatly compared to the humble beginnings of the Android Market. In fact, the Android Market was just one of the company’s online markets.

Three Stores in One

The creation of the Google Play Store in 2012 was the culmination of three separate online markets that Google was running at the time. It combined the Android Market, the Google Music Store, and the Google eBookstore.

The Google eBookstore launched in 2010 with over three million eBooks. Despite the large library, it was mostly filled with public domain titles and scans. Google Music launched in 2011 in beta, and while fans loved the local uploading feature, its library of music to purchase wasn’t big.

Unlike Android apps and games, the Google Music and eBook stores aren’t exclusive to Android phones and tablets. Google was taking the same approach as Apple, which keeps the App Store, Apple Books, and iTunes as separate entities. However, Google’s stores weren’t nearly as popular, despite having wider availability.

To more accurately reflect the scope of what Google had to offer, all three stores were combined under the “Google Play” brand. The eBookstore became “Google Play Books” and Google Music became “Google Play Music,” all found in the Play Store.

The Google Store Branches off

play store devices tab
The “Devices” tab now goes to the Google Store

The Play Store is a digital marketplace. However, it used to sell physical devices, too. For a brief time, Google sold Nexus devices, Chromecasts, and Chromebooks through a “Devices” tab on the Play Store.

At the time, this was the only place that Google had to sell goods. As the company’s hardware efforts grew, it was time for a new store. The Google Store was created in 2015 for the company’s hardware, and the “Devices” tab on the Play Store now directs to that instead.

RELATED: What Is the Google Store?

Google Play Today

google play store on mobile

Nowadays, the Google Play Store is home to Android apps and games, movies and TV shows, eBooks, and audiobooks. Google Play Music has been depreciated in favor of YouTube Music.

RELATED: How to Switch From Google Play Music to YouTube Music

The Play Store is installed on Android phones and tablets as the central location for downloading and purchasing content. It can also be found on Android TV and Google TV streaming sticks, set-top boxes, and smart televisions. If a device runs Android, it will almost certainly include the Play Store.

Meanwhile, the Play Store’s other content areas, such as Google Play Books and Google TV/Play Movies & TV, are available on other platforms, such as the iPhone and iPad. The Google Play Store can be accessed anywhere through a web browser as well.

If you’re interested in a digital good from Google, the Play Store is where you’ll want to go.

Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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