Google started a project to convince web standards groups to adopt technology derived from its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework, a stripped-down form of hypertext markup language (HTML) that boosts the mobile download speeds of website ads and content. Google’s proposal, as outlined in a blog post, would let mobile users see faster non-AMP sites throughout the web, according to TechCrunch.
Google isn’t proposing to turn the entire internet into AMP, but to take some of the best ideas that made AMP work and turn them into a universal standard that isn’t controlled by Google, per The Verge. An accepted standard would likely lead to greater adoption by competing companies, such as Apple and Facebook, that have created their own proprietary technologies for fast-loading pages.
Google features like its “carousel” of top search results rely on AMP's features. Google aims to support content that follows a set of future web standards, and that meets a set of objective performance and user experience criteria. Those proposed standards include Feature Policy, Web Packaging, iframe promotion, Performance Timeline and Paint Timing, per ZDNet.
Google’s efforts to share what it has learned in developing AMP may help to ease a lot of suspicion toward the company, which has a near-monopoly on web-based internet search. Or it could heighten suspicion, as Google has previously supported standardization projects only to later be accused of manipulating them for its own good. If Google were to be successful at creating a new web standard for fast-loading mobile content, it could hurt Apple's and Facebook's efforts to develop direct relationships with publishers. In general, while digital platforms and publishers recognize that a lot of content is being consumed on mobile devices, there is a lack of consistent experiences for users because the involved parties are pursuing disparate strategies.
The AMP framework has struggled to reach widespread adoption, which supports less than 0.1% of websites, according to one survey. That said, sites that have adopted AMP have seen improvements in site performance and conversions, per Search Engine Land.
Google originally created AMP to improve the download speeds of websites that were slow to view on smartphones. AMP also was a response to "walled garden" solutions from Apple and Facebook that offered fast mobile downloads to publishers that posted content on their proprietary platforms, per CNet. But AMP became its own walled garden of nonstandard web technology that resided on Google’s domain and showed web addresses linked to Google instead of publishers, leading to complaints from media companies.
Google’s move to encourage the adoption of a web standard is a fundamental part of developing the internet as an open arena for apps and the flow of information. The walled garden approach means that marketers and content providers would have to contend with dominant tech companies that control how audiences see advertisements and information content about their products. In the long run, a more mobile-friendly web is good for Google in providing content that loads quickly on smartphone browsers. Slower downloads on the mobile web may mean that audiences seek out content served instantaneously through competitors such as Facebook or Apple News. The next steps for Google may take months or even years as the company seeks to get various standard bodies on board with its proposals. In the meantime, Google likely is to keep forging ahead to develop AMP and encourage its broader use.