Google Unveils App Streaming: Is This The Platform That Unifies Apps And The Web?

app-stream-w-dotsFor years I’ve been predicting that mobile apps were a fad – there’s no way we’d settle for such a crappy, de-linked, “chiclet-ized” approach to information and services management. Instead, I argued that a new model would emerge, one that combined the open values of a link-powered web with the mobility, sensors, and personalization of apps. It wasn’t easy to make this argument, because for years Apple, Facebook, and even Google were steadily proving me wrong. Apps (and the mobile platforms where they lived) marched steadfastly to dominance, surpassing the PC Web in both attention and most certainly investor buzz. I mean, who’d ever invest in a “website” anymore?!

The PC web, it seems, is well and truly dead, just like everyone says it was.

Then last week, Google announced App Streaming. This is the chocolate meeting the peanut butter, folks. If this can scale, we may finally be close to breaking the app’s stranglehold on our collective imagination.

In case you missed the news, Google App Streaming is a clever, brute force hack that allows native mobile apps to be streamed in real time over Google’s core infrastructure – no app download required (for details, read Danny here). In other words, App Streaming makes apps act like websites – instantly available through a link, even if you’ve never installed the app on your phone.

It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first time Google has used its massive infrastructure to surmount a seemingly intractable technical challenge. To stand up its original search service, Google successfully put the entire World Wide Web in RAM – creating its own speedy and super-scalable version of what you and I understood to be the Internet.  In essence, to serve us the Web, Google became the Web, along the way creating the fastest growing company in history. It’d be an awful neat hack if Google managed to swallow not just the Web, but also the entire world of apps as well.

I believe that’s exactly what the company is trying to do. This may well be the Web killing apps – something I predicted a year ago.  If so, all I can say is good riddance.

Back in 2004 (11 years ago!), I wrote a Thinking Out Loud post about a fanciful idea I called “Google Business Services.” What if Google became a core platform for the creation of all kinds of new third party services?

What if Google becomes an application server cum platform for business innovation? I mean, a service, a platform service, that any business could build upon? In other words, an ecologic potentiality – “Hey guys, over here at Google Business Services Inc. we’ve got the entire web in RAM and the ability to mirror your data across the web to any location in real time. We’ve got plug in services like search, email, social networking, and commerce clearing, not to mention a shitload of bandwidth and storage, cheap. So…what do you want to build today?”

I was wrong about Google dominating social networking as a service – this was in the pre-Facebook days of Orkut, mind you – but if Google gets its way with App Streaming, Facebook will simply be one more service on the Google platform.

Plenty of questions remain about App Streaming, the most interesting being how it will play with Apple and Facebook. But if you are an app developer, one of your most intractable problems is getting folks past the twin obstacles of download and re-engagement. If Google can prove that App Streaming scales, I can’t imagine any developer who wouldn’t want to take advantage of it.


6 thoughts on “Google Unveils App Streaming: Is This The Platform That Unifies Apps And The Web?”

  1. In case you missed the news, Google App Streaming is a clever, brute force hack that allows native mobile apps to be streamed in real time over Google’s core infrastructure

    So does that mean if Google goes away, this whole chocolate-meets-peanut butter app streaming concept goes away, too?

    To me, that doesn’t change a thing. What we’re really after in the Open Web, what “linking” really means, is decentralization. Services that anyone can run, open standards that anyone can implement. SMTP for example.. if Gmail goes down tomorrow, email doesn’t go down. But if this Google App Streaming platform is proprietary, and it goes down, then all of App Streaming will go down.

    So what Google is doing still doesn’t capture the spirit of the web.

  2. Hmm, Im not totally convinced with this yet. I guess if developers see the potential and Google scales this then the platform could drive targeted users to these apps.

  3. This Google app streaming confuses me. I mean, there’s still a lot of questions in my mind regarding it. But thank goodness you had answer some of it in this post of yours. You have given us a broader understanding about all these app streaming topic. I know Google tries to innovate and give us a better experience and hopefully, this one will be loved by millions of users too.

  4. The question you should be asking: What problem does this solve?

    – That users don’t have to install an app?
    – That app development en deploy will be easier?
    – That it works on all devices?

    It has value from a developer perspective, but has it value from a user perspective?

    And do you need to be online for using it?

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