Google Accelerator

I have a new thought on the whole Google OS meme. Basically, we should move on – in many ways, it's already happened. Recall Google's mission – to organize the world's information and make it accessible? Well, that's pretty much the same mission as Microsoft had for the PC,…

GwaI have a new thought on the whole Google OS meme. Basically, we should move on – in many ways, it’s already happened. Recall Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information and make it accessible? Well, that’s pretty much the same mission as Microsoft had for the PC, when you think about it. The big difference was that to execute on its mission, MSFT had to build the OS. But Google just has to leverage the web. In other words, Google’s mission requires a Web OS (I know some of you hate that phrase, but it works for me), whether they build it or not. It’s a platform that must exist if their services are going to be useful.

And, ideally, that platform is responsive, which means fast. So, what to do when broadband feels less than speedy? Why, leverage your massive infrastructure and nifty algorithms to speed it up, of course. Hence the Google Web Accelerator, launched today. Once again, we Mac folks are left out, but if you’re on Windows, you’re in luck. SEW has a nice overview, from it:

GWA works to speed up the surfing process for all web sites NOT only Google by a combination of:

+ Prefetching material

In part, determined by an algorithm developed at Google that looks at

mouse movements and aggregate traffic to sites to try to determine what to prefetch

+ Caching of pages on Google’s own servers

They will also try to determine how frequently material is updated and continuously have the latest copy available on their servers. Mayer said that GWA and Google’s new search history product are completely independent of one another.

+ Parallel downloading

Download multiple parts of the page (images for example) at the same


+ Differential fetching

Instead of downloading the entire page, GWA will try send only what

might have changed on the page

+ Compression

Mayer added however that GWA tries not to change the quality of images and other material

This is a cool idea – speed up the web by leveraging your own platform, which was, of course, built by search. When you download and use GWA, you don’t have to create a Google account – which I find odd, honestly, as this is a perfect excuse to tie customers more closely to Google. However, you do start to run all your web surfing habits over Google’s servers, and that, of course, makes Google something of a proxy ISP, with access to all the aggregate data that an ISP like AOL or Comcast has on you. Is that a good thing? Well, yes and no. But net net, it has implications down the road. Very soon, Google will know an awful lot about the world’s surfing habits, well beyond search. Hmmm.

Update: Over at 37 Signals, signs that the GWA ain’t such a nice net citizen.

13 thoughts on “Google Accelerator”

  1. couple things. . .

    1) how will the web accelerator affect akamai? especially combined with google desktop search’s server-like architecture I can envision a true peer-to-peer web content/application cacheing network being born.

    2) With all the recent buzz about “behavioral ad targeting” being just as effective as search (adword) and more effective than content (adsense). All these traffic data could be used to model/predict clickthrough for adsense more effectively and raise its effectiveness by combining content & behavioral ad targeting algorithms. Google has been trying as hard as they can to prevent their ppc ad rates from being seperated into search & content because of poor performance of adsense, this might be their ticket back to creat a single pricing structure. Strategically, having a fully fungible ppc “word commodity” across all ad types creates huge flexibility in moving the company into new advertising channels and expanding the network w/o interference and constraints from either advertisers or publishers. Google knows how not to become doubleclick.

  2. For how many years have the same things been said about Google’s potential? Has it come to this, that when Amazon is blazing the web 2.0 trail and Yahoo is flying with RSS, we say Google is implementing a web OS because it has a web accelerator? That’s hardly a great innovation. OK, sure, it has some nice algorithms, but still … None of this marks out Google out as different. Yahoo knows a lot about the world’s surfing habits, and so do the world’s biggest ISPs, as you say.

    I have already said many, many times that Google has underdelivered on this Google OS issue, and at some point we have to say, hey Google, you had your chance, you’re not so special on that front. The latest post is here. We can’t say now that look, they don’t need to do a “proper” OS, we’ll just accept whatever crumbs they offer and call that a web OS. That’s the flip side of the sour grapes argument, where you relabel something just because you can’t have it.

    If Google does come up with a web OS, fine, well done Google, but we can’t be predicting it for ten years and then think we were right, if we get a Google OS in 2010. Google deliver great search, and very little in the way of a web OS. But then, Google never promised a web OS. That’s just outsiders wanting it from Google. We need to leave that behind and judge the trees by the fruit, look at who has delivered real products, and focus on that rather than continue to project our hopes onto a company that has no web OS to show.

  3. Hey James, thanks. But that’s pretty much what I was saying – “Basically, we should move on – in many ways, it’s already happened.” The web is the platform now, Google is building on top of it. And Will, your comments are spot on to what I was leaving hanging there – all that traffic could indeed inform their ad products, and were I a shareholder, I’d sure expect them to leverage this new information stream to stay competitive.

  4. I tried out the Accelerator from a Comcast cable modem last night. Total time saved in about 30 minutes of surfing: 45 seconds.

    Today, I’m trying it from behind the corporate proxy, and it’s not doing anything for me. I realize that the proxy is caching a LOT of data and is already saving plenty of our DS3’s bandwidth, but I have even tried flushing the proxy’s cache and still have not seen anything from the Accelerator. Perhaps it doesn’t do anything for us proxy users.

  5. A bit of further analysis shows that this app has actually changed the proxy settings in my browser. They have gone in and created a custom Proxy AutoConfig file (which is written in JavaScript). They’re directing me to the local proxy (the Accelerator) and then to my normal proxy. Very interesting.

    Also of note in the new PAC file: Windows Update and Gmail are exempted from the acceleration by means of a regular expression match against the URL.

    This is a really slick product!

  6. Sorry for posting so many messages, but I just have one more thing to say. I read through the GWA’s custom PAC in full, and basically, it’s sending you through your company proxy if you’re already configured that way. So many corporate users will not be able to benefit from this tool. But if they’re running proxies that are as strong as ours, they really don’t need it anyway.

  7. One warning about the Web Accelerator: when you hover over links, it “prefetches” them by default (and I assume most users will leave this on.) If that link has an associated action, rather than simply being a navigational link, it may cause a side effect. For instance, if you hover over a “delete” link, your content may actually be deleted without you knowing it! This depends on how the link is written, as Google only prefetches certain URLs.

  8. To add to my previous comment – this isn’t really a problem with publicly available content. Most web sites have had to deal with this issue for a while, as a result of web crawlers. And it won’t be an issue with the typical web application, most of which which use “URL?parameters” style links for actions with side effects – GWA won’t prefetch those.

    But it may break some random internal apps, etc. that use URL rewriting and which are normally protected from web crawlers by requiring login.

    I first noticed it on the popular “Backpack” web app (

  9. Google has taken down the downloadpage for it’s Web Accelerator. Now you will read “We have currently reached our maximum capacity of users and are actively working to increase the number of users we can support.”
    Hopefully they use the time to eliminate some of their privacy concerns.

  10. This is a great program for those users who don’t know anything about how computers and/or the internet works, and/or just want to experience the “feel good illusion” of (not really) increased speed by having an entirely useless acceleration program on their hard drive.

    Still you’ve got to admire Google’s chutzpa here; I’m guessing that it has to be the most hilarious bit of shell-game spyware ever invented by any company in the entire history of computer or Internet use and development. Very clever really, when you consider that the trade off is that users “think” they’re getting “increased” internet speed; in exchange for revealing exact the name of every single webpage that you ever visit from the moment that you install Google Web Accelerator until (hopefully) the moment you wise up and remove it.

    After Google Web Accelerator is installed it does absolutely nothing to improve browsing. Also Google Web Accelerator collects copies of all web pages, (including prefetched pages that you did not even visit), in the Google Web Accelerator cache on your computer. All it does is collect and store a gazillion MB of temp files every time you use it for a session of surfing; and Google gets to know the exact the name of every single webpage that you ever visit for products, news, banking, whatever! This is very valuable information to have; not only does Google know everything you click on, but you get zero in exchange for this info.

    Finally, Google admits on their own support page that any and all passwords, e-mail addresses etc. you enter in a web form (e. g. when purchasing an item online) will be funneled via their systems. If you enter personally identifiable information (such as an email address) onto a form on an unencrypted web page, the sites will send this information through Google.

    Had he lived long enough to see this, P.T. Barnum; the person who coined the phrase: “A Sucker is Born Every Minute” would most certainly consider those who download, install and leave this program on their computers to be suckers indeed!

  11. i think Google’s Accelerator is useless. is my site.the time is installed google Accelerator i was unable to open my site but from other computer yes.but then i uninstall that then i again i was able to open my if it works like that then i think the people who have this program installed they are unable to open not only mine site but of others too.

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