By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc is renaming its online storefront for music, books and digital goods, its latest move to raise its profile in the market for electronic content sales and to better compete with Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.
The company has retired the Android Market name for its store that sells apps, videos, music and electronic books on the Web and on mobile devices. From Tuesday, the store will be rebranded as the Google Play Store.
The change is designed to make it clearer to consumers that Google offers a broad catalogue of content in addition to the apps programmed for smartphones and tablets based on its Android operating system.
"Some people see the Android icon on their homescreen and they think it's just for apps," said Chris Yerga, engineering director for Android Digital Content, in an interview with Reuters on Monday.
The name is being introduced three and a half years after Google launched its Android Market as a central outlet for consumers to download the mobile apps created for the growing number of Android-based smartphones.
Android is the world's No.1 smartphone operating system, used in smartphones sold by Motorola, Samsung and HTC, among others.
There are more than 450,000 Android-compatible apps available from third-party software developers versus 550,000 apps available for Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
In the past year and a half, Google has expanded the menu of offerings in the Android Market to include digital books, music and videos - markets where Apple and Amazon have robust businesses. Apple said in October that more than 16 billion songs have been downloaded from its iTunes store. Amazon said last year that it sells more digital books than print books.
Google's variety of outlets for selling different types of digital content - consumers could purchase electronic books at a special Google books website as well as on the Android Market website - was confusing for consumers, Yerga said.
And the applications for consumers to play music and videos, or read the books they purchased also had different names, creating further confusion, he said. On Tuesday, Google's various media applications will all feature the Play branding as part of their names.
"Our goal with this is to bring more people to the store," Yerga said. "Maybe that person who is an avid book reader or music purchaser now becomes aware of 'Hey I can also get videos here, I can get games here.'"
(Editing by Ron Popeski)