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Google Advocates Web as Platform

At the Google I/O conference yesterday in San Francisco, Vic Gundotra, the head of Google's developer programs, made his company's case for supporting Open Source efforts that improve the user experience on the Web.

"The Web is the only platform our company has ever known," said Gundotra, and then went on to discuss the ideal Web as a place of "concensus and partnership" on standards. "We owe a debt to Open Source," he said, "and we're committed to giving back."

This commitment, manifested at least partly in Google's contribution of open web APIs and web development tools like Google Web Toolkit, fits into a larger business plan which Gundotra described as a "virtuous cycle" that begins with Google's investment of resources in better web technologies.

"Better web applications mean more users, which means more usage, which means more revenue for us," Gundotra said.

Among the announcments yesterday:

  • Google App Engine, which previously had a waiting list for sign-ups, is now open to everyone.
  • Google Web Toolkit reaches version 1.5, and includes support for Java 5 syntax.
  • Google Earth is now a browser plug-in.
  • The OpenSocial specification reaches version 0.8, with the addition of a RESTful API for clients to interact with OpenSocial container servers.
  • Two new APIs are available: The memcache API for high-performance, in-memory, key-value caching; and the Image Manipulation API, for resizing, cropping and otherwise altering images.

One of the most popular announcements was the fact that App Engine is now open to everyone. Google also answered the question of how much the app hosting will eventually cost developers. It's still free for 500 MB of storage, and a level of bandwidth and CPU usage that Google says equates to approximately 5 million views per month. Beyond that, pricing is as follows:

  • $0.10 - $0.12 per CPU core-hour
  • $0.15 - $0.18 per GB-month of storage
  • $0.11 - $0.13 per GB outgoing bandwidth
  • $0.09 - $0.11 per GB incoming bandwidth

For a developer doubling the initial free usage level, Google says they can expect to pay about $40-$50 per month.

Google also drew a few oohs and ahs from another demo of Android, the company's mobile device stack. New features appearing in this demo included desktop-style shortcuts to web destinations or address-book contacts, and a display of Google Street View that was tied to the device's internal compass, so that the view of the street moved as the device was rotated. All of this was running on custom hardware, of course, since no manufacturers are yet selling Android-based handsets.

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