A little sweetening of the deal for would-be Android holiday tablet and smartphone and buyers in one part of the world: today Google announced that it is expanding its Magazines section of Google Play apps to the UK. Some Android users started to notice the store appearing yesterday; today is the formal launch where it will be available to everyone.
Google says that the store at launch features over 100 UK titles, including Conde Nast’s Vogue and Traveller, as well as Hello! for those who love to read about A-D list celebs and royals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top sellers so far are dominated by tech titles like PC Gamer and the Official XBox Magazine, although interestingly Crochet Today is currently sitting at number four. Hipsters or grannies driving the Android tablet market, perhaps to complement early adopting techies?
What about the rest of Europe? The Magazine tab is appearing on other localized versions of the Google Play store, including in France and Germany. But it doesn’t look like they yet have local content in there — it’s a selection of what is being offered on Google Play UK. We’ve reached out to Google to ask what’s happening there.
The move to expand magazines comes as Google ramps up other content on Google Play, such as books and movie purchases, services it first announced this past summer and launched in the U.S. in June. Another development in that service was the launch of a web reader for Magazines in the U.S. in October. It launched Music on Google Play in the UK and other European countries last month.
On the one hand, the move adds a lot more content options for Android users, specifically those on tablets, which are more popular for consuming more long-form content of this kind compared to smaller-screened smartphones.
On the other, these are clearly also competitive plays from Google, to make sure that its Android devices remain desirable purchases in the face of competition from Amazon and the Kindle Fire, as well as Apple and the iPad. In one example last week, Google launched e-books in Brazil to coincide with Amazon opening for business in Brazil, selling Kindle content and devices. Android tablets have taken some market share from the iPad in the last year, but with the rise of the cheap Kindle Fire, new Windows 8 tablets — and Microsoft’s big push on content for those, coupled with Apple’s newest iPad models, this holiday season is very much up for grabs.