Announced via the Google India blog, Android users in India are now able to access the catalogue of more than 5 million titles which includes “thousands” from Indian authors. Books cost upwards of 50 INR (US$0.93) and, while movie and music content are probably larger draws for locals, the move to introduce books suggests that other content may be forthcoming in the future. Such an expansion would put Google on a par with Apple, which launched its iTunes Store in India in December 2012.
“We’re happy to make it even easier for all Indian book lovers to discover and buy whatever they want to read, whether that’s the next bestseller, a new release from their favourite author or a well-loved classic. Whether you’re a bookworm or casual reader, we hope you find something great to read on Google Play,” writes Ajay Malhotra, a Google Strategic Partner Development Manager.
The launch is significant because, to date, Google has opened very little of its Google Play content in emerging markets. Indeed, India aside, Brazil is the only other developing market to enjoy access to Books, although the Latin American country also got access to the Google Play Movies section when Google extended its app store there in December 2012.
We reached out to Google but the company declined to comment on whether Movies will also be making its way to India. Sources close to the company were vague on the possible expansion of content in the future.
The issues center around striking deals with content owners, but, given that Apple’s full suite of content is available in the country and Indian music and movie streaming services — such as Gaana, Dhingana, Spuul and BoxTV — are on the rise, Google is surely working to expand the scope of its Google Play store.
Today’s news follows the launch of Google Business Photos Program opened in the country yesterday. The initiative allows businesses to have their store photographed (for free) in order to provide images and richer content for their entries on Street View.
India is the fourth largest country for Google Play downloads, and that has made it a focus market for Google. The company began offering local developers the opportunity to sell paid-for apps in Google Play in October 2012.
Headline image via AFP, others via Google