How do you rescue a couple of online services that aren’t doing particularly well?By combining them with a successful service and rebranding the whole mess.
The whole move reminds us of 2005, when Microsoft took a bunch of its MSN online services and rebranded them Windows Live. The services didn’t get any more successful, but it centered them around the Microsoft product that really mattered: Windows.
Here, it looks like Google is re-establishing the importance of the “Google” brand instead of Android for its online services, while basically scrapping Google Music and the eBookstore, which weren’t doing very well on their own.
Google Music has been around for about a year in beta (as an online music storage service), and the store launched last fall. But the store lacked songs from one of the big major labels, Warner, and there are already plenty of other sources for online music.
Not surprisingly, it’s not meeting expectations.
The eBookstore came out in late 2010. After about six months, users had downloaded 2.5 million books from the eBookstore. That’s a sales rate of about 5 million per year.
By way of comparison, we estimated that Amazon sold about 22 million Kindle books in 2010 — and that was before Amazon started saying that Kindle books were outselling paperbacks. Apple reported 180 million books sold in October 2011, less than two years after its bookstore launched.
The Android Market, on the other hand, is a success by any measure: it passed 10 billion downloads last December. It’s not growing as quickly as Apple’s App Store, but nobody could fairly call it a failure.
Now, it’s all part of the same thing.