So Caleb had a birthday this week and decided that with his birthday money, he wanted to buy an Android tablet. He chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7″ for its price and features. So far so good. We created a Google account for him so he could access the device and use the features. He went a little crazy downloading free apps, but I do recall doing the same thing on my first iPod touch, so no harm no foul. Then he saw Minecraft PE. He’s loved Minecraft since playing it at a friend’s birthday party, but he’s never been able to have it at home (his iPod is too old and I won’t let him play games on my computer), so seeing a version that would play on his tablet just about made him swoon.
Since I didn’t want to hook my credit card up to his Google account (I mean, what could possibly go wrong?), we went out looking for Google Play gift cards which I assumed were available at all the major retailers in town – he had some money left over after buying the tablet and this looked like the easiest way to get the game(s) he wanted. Unfortunately, after 1½ fruitless hours later, we had to concede that there were no cards in town. Then I went on the internet, thinking that I would simply buy an online gift card and he could pay me back with his birthday money. Once again, Google foiled our ambitions. In Canada, there is presently no way of depositing money into a Play account for someone.
At this point, I was about ready to take the tablet back and exchange it for an iPod, because the one thing we’d seen everywhere we looked for Play cards was App Store gift cards. They’re everywhere. Even 7-Eleven sells them. If Google wants to take some of that ecosystem sales away from Apple, they’re going to have to significantly improve the user experience of getting apps onto devices without credit cards.