Google Play gift cards go on sale at Target, RadioShack, GameStop

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is rolling out Google Play gift cards to retail partners including Target, RadioShack and GameStop.

The cards--available in denominations of $10, $25 and $50--can be used to purchase Android applications and games, as well in-app premiums like extra levels, add-on packs and virtual currency. Shoppers may also use Google Play gift cards to purchase digital music, movies and TV shows, as well as e-books. Gift cards cannot be redeemed for Android app subscriptions, magazine subscriptions or hardware/accessory purchases.

The Google Play gift cards are exclusive to U.S. retailers. In addition to its brick-and-mortar merchant partners, Google will offer the cards via Walmart.com beginning later this month.

Google Play (formerly Android Market) launched in October 2008. Speaking in June at the annual Google I/O developer conference, Android Engineering Director Chris Yerga said consumers have installed 20 billion Google Play apps to date, adding that more than 50 percent of Android developer revenues derive from sales of in-app goods.

Google Play has nevertheless struggled to keep pace with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival iTunes Store, which includes its App Store for iPhone and iPad. For example, mobile gamers who play titles on iOS devices spend five times more than their Android counterparts, according to a study published earlier this year by market research firm Newzoo. "When analyzing Apple's successful monetization, there is one dominant factor outside of differences in audience demographics and preferences: Apple requires users to connect their credit card information directly to their [iTunes Store] account, thus creating a seamless purchase experience," explained Newzoo CEO Peter Warman.

Apple has offered iTunes Store gift cards since the digital marketplace launched in April 2003. The App Store eclipsed the 30 billion download milestone in June.

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Study: iOS gamers spend 5X more than Android players

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