May 20, 2010

Quick reflections on today's Google IO keynote announcements

In today's keynote at the Google IO conference, a pretty impressive list of announcements was made official. [And tomorrow everyone is keen to see news about Android, I guess?] I want to quickly comment on two or three that I find particularly interesting.

Web video: Opensourcing the VP8 video codec
This was expected to happen at some point, after Google acquired On2. The list of companies supporting the new format is interesting and Microsoft has seemed to confirm that IE9 will support it.

This might put H264 on death row as a candidate for the video format for web and if adoption goes as Google hopes, it will pose Apple with an interesting dilemma. This will indeed be the case if the flash player will be among the first environments to deliver a good user experience for WebM. [Another sidenote: Again, it will be interesting to see tomorrow if Flash on Android is finally approaching what Macromedia and later Adobe has been preaching about Flash Mobile for more than five years... If it is, Apple might get push from their user base, me included, to get access to cool apps on their iPhones and iPads.]

Web applications part 1: VMware teams up with Google trying to deliver "the cloud OS"
Tim O'Reilly wrote a great post on the development and State of the Internet Operating System a few weeks ago. VMware secured a deal with Salesforce recently to allow developers use their Spring platform there. Today it was announced that it will also be readily available on Google App Engine and also integrates more easily with the Google web toolkit.

VMware's Paul Maritz was even quite explicit about the goal, saying something along the lines of: "If the cloud is the new hardware, you can see this as the operating system." That could mean easier cloud-to-cloud (private or public) interoperability for both ISVs and companies, which can only be good. Of course, there are other main players in this space. One should not underestimate good old Microsoft - they certainly have some experience building successful platforms that third party developers deliver applications for...

Web applications part 2: Browser capabilities and a new webapp store
There was also a few cool demos of what can be done in plain browser based applications without plugins today (so called HTML5). The rapid development in this area of course also accelerates the movement of applications to the cloud. As far as I noticed, there weren't any specifics on Chrome OS [Tomorrow morning?], but it makes more and more sense to have a OS totally focused on web for every day that passes.

It remains to be seen if the Chrome application store will be a success, but it must probably be viewed in the scope of the Chrome OS to be judged fairly. It might give an option for independent developers and small companies to monetize on their products, much like Apple has championed for mobile apps.

It is very interesting times. In my company, I am doing product development in the mobile/augmented reality space and I am amazed with all the libraries, frameworks and options available to a startup these days - it is a huge difference from only a decade ago. Google is in my opinion one of the companies that seems to get the balance between open and proprietary innovation quite right, so kudos to them for helping to drive this exciting progress.

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