Google exists in an alternative reality where raving about grand changes in technology always seem to come true. This has been true time and time again where seemingly false steps from Google have stumbled into perpetually resilient gold deposits. With their development of Google Chrome it seemed that Google was putting too much stock in the application framework to truly be safe. Now that we see what the future for Google Chrome may lie on their mobile Android it seems as if the parallel thought patterns have aligned and Google has just found another winner. Or so they say.
Google’s preview for the Chrome Web Store shows off essentially an app store for web based applications. This will be the first of its kind in a revolutionary act of commercializing the web beyond the framework that anyone thought possible. This was the assumed behavior when the Google Chrome design was first unveiled, but it seems like up till now it was difficult to envision how such a plan would end up even close to financially acceptable. With the release of the Chrome Web Store Google is making a clear line in stating how central web apps will be to computing, especially done on mobile platforms. The likelihood here is that the momentum put behind this release will compel developers to rush into this new market under the assumption that it will be defining, possibly creating a bizarre speculative bubble based around zombie RPGs. If this rush does occur it will solidify the Chrome Store and the web based application formula not because its proficiency or consumer preference, but instead because of Google’s titan like stature in the Zeitgeist.
The Chrome Web Store will look in many ways both like the Android and iPhone app stores with user interaction and a purchasing system. The difference here is simply that these application are non-native an based on a web format. This will be coming through HTML5 APIs and promises to run smoothly, though at this stage of the game it continues to seem limiting. There is not question that at this time native applications remain the standard for effective smart phone use, but Google wants to remain ahead of the game and develop a framework for distribution for when they believe web apps will finally bullrush those native born. This will now begin to create internal competition within Google pitting native against web, developer against developer, and ultimately the clash between how we develop applications for our computing.
Several major companies are already getting behind this format, especially those involved in the tightrope of print publications. Sport Illustrated, just to name a highly publicized participant, has displayed HTML5 versions of the magazine that are intended to be used through this format on mobile devices. This is all part of the major shift that has been forced in print journalism, but it is unclear wether this decision will end up having an effect on the coming battle between application formats.
Right now it seems unlikely, even bizarre to assume that web apps are going to oust the native design. How could the quality of the product be maintained? Would this make it easier for tech rebels like the iPhone Dev Team to begin hacking their way through expensive applications? Would it initiate a more egalitarian environment for developers or would it further consolidate application development to a few highly centralized companies that already control the market like a cartoonish super-villain? We can’t say for sure today, but odds are if Google is chasing it we should stay close behind.