Today is the second day of the 4th annual Google I/O developer event which opened with another fact filled keynote focusing on the progress of Chrome and HTML5.
With more than 100% YoY growth, new releases every 6 weeks, a user base exceeding 160M worldwide, 70M+ installed apps, Chrome Web store availability globally and in 41 languages the traction for Chrome is continuously increasing bringing the possibilities of HTML5 to a fastly growing community.
At Google I/O we experienced some impressive examples of the Chrome capabilities showcasing speech support, hardware acceleration support, high performance 2D Canvas rendering for sprites as well as high performance WebGL rendering and 3D CAD modeling capabilities using HTML5 based web applications.
It was nice to hear that application purchases are now a simple one click solution, but much more important for developers was the announcement that Google will only take a flat fee of 5% transaction cost for application purchases on the web. This was a key talking point outside the keynote and certainly seems be a move that resonates well with developers and lays down a marker to industry that Google is serious about Chrome.
However, there were more important things to announce – at least for the Angry Birds fans amongst us: Angry Birds is now available as a Web App!
Though it is not the game with the richest and most demanding graphical experience it shows nonetheless the new possibilities enabled with HTML5. The experience showcased was very smooth and I’m looking forward to trying out the Chrome specific levels soon…
That’s it about the Chrome browser and HTML5, but wasn’t there something else planned beyond the browser? Yes, there was and in fact the Chrome OS was the next big topic of the keynote. Finally the first commercial Chromebooks a ready to launch offering an web centric, instant on, automatically updated and all day battery life experience. It was nice to see what improvements were made in terms of file browser support, media player and web services but the big wow effect was missing. With the first Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung being priced in the range of $350-$450 there was not a real unique selling point presented that would motivate people to go with Chromebooks instead of a standard Netbook that are equally priced. Moreover the ability of Android to support Notebooks as depicted in the day one keynote leaves a big question mark on the Chrome OS future. Having said that I’m very keen to try them out and I hope that the actual hands-on experience will provide that spark of excitement.
Talking about Chrome OS I was surprised to see that Google will enter a new business area by offering an enterprise and educational use managed service for $28 and $20 per month and user respectively which covers hardware, software support and device replacement services. Google stated that their research indicated that up to 75% of existing enterprise users could be switched to Chromebooks without reducing their productivity. Given that more and more of the enterprise applications are cloud based and knowing about the still horrendous IT cost for enterprises this might turn into a successful business moving forward. In announcing this Google stated that the average PC support cost is $3,000-5,000 per year so this is clearly a very aggressive move and one that could for many companies provide significant cost savings.
Some interesting technical sessions also took place after the keynote covering the comparison of HTML5 and native applications, game development, Android for enterprise use, updates on Android market, … But as one might expect, no further groundbreaking news were presented in these – though I’m still a bit disappointed that I did not know about the game development session after which every participant got a Xperia Play for free. Better luck next time ;-)
Overall Google I/O was again a great conference to be at and when I’m looking back it is incredible to see what happened in the last 2 years – the evolution of HTML5, the global success of Android and its shiny future, new Google services like movie and music and many more make this an very exciting journey to be part of. Will be back in 2012….