Posted April 8, 2008 9:48 am by with 7 comments

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Unless Marketing Pilgrim was the first stop in your online news reading this morning–in which case we thank you–you’ve probably noticed the buzz surrounding Google’s launch of Google App Engine. While web developers salivate at the thought of free web hosting for their online applications, no one is asking “Why?”

Why would Google enter the web app hosting space and give it away for free? I’ll tell you what I think, in a moment, but first let’s take a look at what they’ve won…

During this preview period, applications are limited to 500MB of storage, 200M megacycles of CPU per day, and 10GB bandwidth per day. We expect most applications will be able to serve around 5 million pageviews per month. In the future, these limited quotas will remain free, and developers will be able to purchase additional resources as needed.

  • Dynamic webserving, with full support of common web technologies
  • Persistent storage (powered by Bigtable and GFS with queries, sorting, and transactions)
  • Automatic scaling and load balancing
  • Google APIs for authenticating users and sending email
  • Fully featured local development environment

Google App Engine will initially open to the first 10,000 developers who sign-up–you’d better hurry–with the rest of us getting free access after the “preview” period.

OK, so why is Google giving this all away for free? I found the clue in something that Matt Cutts said.

Your application can authenticate users that are using Google Accounts, so you can avoid the whole “ask your users to create a new account” issue if you want.

Oh how convenient. OK, it is actually convenient–most people have a Google Account, even if it’s just for Gmail–but it does make you think about Google’s motives for Google App Engine. If Google’s providing the heavy-lifting for your new web application, why wouldn’t you use its authentication for your new users–one less thing to worry about right? From there, you users are just a short step away from using Gmail, Docs, YouTube, and then clicking a multitude of ads.

With computer and bandwidth costs dropping like a lead balloon, Google just launched the world’s most sophisticated affiliate referral program–substituting web space for commission payments. And it doesn’t hurt that Google also gets to build its own mini-WWW in the process.

Why do you think Google’s launching App Engine? What did I miss?

While you give that some thought, here’s video from last night’s “Campfire” announcement.

(Note: We’ll say it for you Matt. Matt Cutts’ blog posts represent his personal views, not those of Google…necessarily.) 😉

  • Hmmm Google always has some sort of hidden agenda. By giving more people control of the internet, they have more control over data and info providing they are the ones who enable the service. It will be interesting to see what else they come up with.

  • Susan Beebe

    Good post Andy!

    I think you’ve hit right on the head.

    But don’t also forget how Google just swept a hoard of worldwide developers towards THEIR *free* development platform in 1 very bold move. This move by Google is an obvious attempt to buy the loyalty of developers so as to persuade them to build apps on Google’s powerful and “scalable” code base, plus the bonus of getting to use Google’s infrastructure for free (sorta). I think Google loyalty already exists for many techies, so this was an easy sell. This will propel lots of open development of new Google Apps which leverage the GoogleAppEngine and their existing Google Apps, APIs, tools, etc. [pretty clever!]

  • I just tried signing up and they already have a full roster! That was quick. Yes I do question why is it free, and yes it is there way of getting more users but I must admit… its a neverending array of genius! Plus I like that I can sign into applications using my gmail account so as much as I do not like Google’s shady plans for somethings, I like that they did this.


  • Just tried signing up too – no joy. But then do I really want to? It does sound to me like it’s another one of Google’s sneaky tricks which will end up letting them control more of what we see and do online


  • Geo

    Hi Andi,

    you make some points, but I believe you miss some, too.

    For example, it will be much cheaper and much faster for them to crawl the websites hosted on their own servers.

    Another thing – they will have all the statistical data they want about these new websites, business models, etc. This will give them an edge over the competition and will also provide them with the opportunity to easily spot emerging trends and to also buy the companies/developers that own websites that quickly earn popularity far cheaper.

    There is also an opportunity, I am not saying they’ll do it, but the opportunity is there that they will be able to snoop on other’s people’s code and ideas from the inside.

  • @Geo – great points.

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