Today at Google I/O during the Chrome press session, one question seemed to come up over and over again: why build a new Chrome Web Store when there is already an Android Marketplace? This is the latest extension of the thought that two different areas within Google (Android and Chrome) are increasingly competing with one another as platforms. But Google has a different take. For them, it’s about natural selection for now. And eventually, it will be about a natural convergence.
Google VP of Product Sundar Pichai says that by investing in both platforms, the company will be well-positioned no matter what happens in the future. “We’re trying not to pre-judge,” he notes indicating they’re keeping an open mind about things. While the two teams largely operate as separate units, there is some code share, such as in Android web browser, Pichai notes. And he expects that sharing to keep growing going forward.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin went further. “These models are likely to converge in the future. And not the too distant future,” Brin says.
He notes that during the keynote today, we got a glimpse at how the HTML model is coming along. Web apps are now able to go offline, and they can have richer graphics thanks to HTML5. “It’s getting similar to app frameworks,” he says. He also notes that there are benefits to using web apps versus native apps, such as the lack of installation, and certain aspects of security. “It’s headed in a positive direction, but these are fairly recent developments,” Brin says.
Brin acknowledges that for now, the market is proving the need for native apps. The current generation of cellphones aren’t quite powerful enough, and HTML5 isn’t quite developed enough, he notes. Pichai also notes that screen sizes on mobile devices makes native apps more enticing as well.
But despite some of this cautious talk, the general vibe from Google’s top brass seems clear: the web will win in the end. Eventually, Android will morph into Chrome OS to create a unified web platform, if Google has its way.
Someone might want to tell Apple.