Google outlines Web development investments in three areas

To encourage the creation of more Web-based applications during the next several years, Google will invest in three key areas for developers, including opening up its servers to host their applications, encouraging pervasive connectivity to the Web, and making the browser more powerful, says Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering, who the led opening keynote speech at this year's Google Developer Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

"Google was born in the era of the Web," Gundotra says. "It's the only platform we've known. It was a platform that was formed by consensus. It was all of us collectively that agreed to a few standards. We feel a debt of gratitude toward that community."

Gundotra conceded that Web developers working atop Google-provided development tools and servers would lead to remunerative opportunities for the Mountain View, Calif.-based giant. "As the Web gets bigger and enables better Web apps, it attracts more users. For us, more users means more Google searches, which leads to more revenue. But the money we make will get dumped back into the platform."

Here's a summary of Google's investment plans (though they never specified dollar amounts):

1. Making the Cloud More Accessible

Google will open up the Google data centers so that developers can more easily scale their applications. This means that developers will still create their app locally on their machines and test it, but once it's ready, they can deploy it to millions of users, according to Gundotra.

This will be done using the Google App Engine. Kevin Gibbs, Tech Lead for the Google App Engine, told the audience that the product would be free for up to five million page views a month. After that, a price plan will be worked out involving metrics such as page views, storage and CPUs.

2. Keeping Connectivity Pervasive

Google believes the mobile revolution will improve connectivity, and it's betting on its Android platform to be the central place for development on top of the mobile Web. Gundotra says the various mobile platforms (such as Windows mobile, Apple's SDK, and RIM's BlackBerry platform) are "too fragmented." In his view, an open source, mobile stack can centralize mobile development, which Google believes will be embodied by Android.

During the presentation, Steve Horowitz, Android's engineering director, displayed the Android platform's capabilities on a touch screen phone. These included some of Google's basic apps, such as Gmail and calendaring, and a more complex Google Maps feature called street view, which allows users to see pictures of streets in major cities.

3. Make the Client (Browser) More Powerful

Google believes its Gears plug-in (which allows people to take Web apps offline and utilize the power of their desktop) and HTML 5 represent the future of the Web-browser. By using these tools to extend the capabilities of JavaScript, Gundotra says, Web apps can become more powerful and more rich.