Google I/O: Return of the Web!

For the last few years, my “superbowl” event has been Black Friday, but this year it has reverted to an old highlight, Google I/O. The excitement is really brewing at the office, with people flying in from all around the world, as we get into the week of the event, and once you check out the venue you end up getting even more excited to get started.

This Google I/O is going to feel different in a few ways, and one of them revolves around the theme of the Web.

Last year, the Web content was a little thinner than in the past, and the contrast to the over 30, high quality sessions is stark. I know that I have much bias, but I want to go to every one of them. I have seen the extended team work their tails off too to bring their best to the event.

To get an overall view on what Google thinks of the Web, make sure to watch Rahul Roy-chowdhury’s State of the Union. I think it will paint a great picture on our opinion of where the Web is and how it has been evolving as of late.

I have talked about the journey that the Web has been on as it evolved its DNA to deal with the world changing around it (with Mobile) and it really has been a multi-year journey.

I characterize it as:

2014: Do a lot of the work to enable mobile capabilities

This was the meat of the hard work to take the new mobile world and map it to the benefits of the Web. At the other end of this we saw the standardization of service workers, saw multiple browsers implementing them, and saw the killer features on top (e.g., push notifications)

2015: Get them out there and evolve

Then we had to get more implementations out there, and evolve the offerings. We had to learn the best practices and the gotchas of the new technologies.

Many mobile browsers also had to rework their engines to deal with mobile constraints. Desktop browsers had become powerhouses with the ability to run rich applications, but mobile browsers had to be trimmed to run on much different hardware.

ASIDE: We also launched efforts such as AMP to quickly solve other pain points (content performance), and you will see sessions on this too.

We started to see certain companies jump in and experiment with these new capabilities to help their businesses.

2016: Business Results

We all continue to do all of these things. There is still room for a lot of iteration in the browsers and in the realm of web developers. One thing does feel very different in 2016 though, and that is the fact that we are seeing actual business results.

We have seen several case studies, and will surely see a lot more at I/O, that show that this all works for users and businesses. This isn’t just about technology for technologies sake.

This is exciting as it means that we are all on to something, and we can now keep pulling on that thread.

Rebalancing the force

So, why the renewed focus on the Web? I think it is quite natural. When a new explosion happens you find yourself wanting to dive in. That happened with the app ecosystem. Companies had to dive into a new world, they had to ramp up teams to build applications with new technologies all as they learn how it all applies to their business.

We are several years into the mobile economy, which gives us enough data for companies to see how things are shaping up.

For example, if you are an ecommerce company, you may have found that a lot of your revenue is still coming through the Web channels. This makes total sense as the low friction and “access a product from anywhere thanks to the URL” makes that world work.

Thus, we are seeing a rebalancing. This isn’t a “Web will kill apps!” moment, just as it wasn’t a “Apps will kill Web!” moment. Each has their place and trade offs. We keep seeing how the Web is gaining more native capabilities just as apps have gained more Web features, and this is all good.

2016 is the year to take a step back, look at your numbers, and reinvest in the Web.

I am excited to meet with the community at I/O in a couple days, because we can share what is working for their businesses, as well as the technical approaches.

See you at the Amphitheater!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *