Google announced its Google Play cloud content service, which it described as “a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favourite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet.”

The launch will see Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore rolled into Google Play, with the Android Market app on smartphones and tablets updated to become Google Play Store “in the coming days.” Already purchased content will also be transferred to the new service.

Some observers said the move is intended to better position Google to compete with Apple, which already offers a broad catalogue of content and apps through its own storefront. The companies currently dominate the smartphone and tablet markets, where the ability to offer customers a full set of media products is seen as a competitive differentiator.

As with its previous content services, not all Google Play products will be available in all markets. For example, music is only available in the US, with apps the only product supported broadly. Jamie Rosenberg, director of digital content, noted in a blog post that “our long-term goal is to roll out as many different types of content as possible to people around the world, and we’ll keep adding new content to keep it fresh.”

According to Reuters, a Google executive said the move is designed to make it clearer to users that a broad range of content is available from the company, against the perception that Android Market is app-focused.

Cnet noted that while Google Play is being heavily marketed as a service for Android device owners, it can be used by any Google user regardless of device – desktop computers, for example, are supported.