Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

Summary: If developers won't come to Google, then Google will go to the developers. Or at least hire them.

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ZDNet's Mobile News blogger, James Kendrick, outlined Google's plans to hire top mobile application development talent. However, when he explains the move in terms of back-pedaling on their long-held belief that the mobile web will ultimately reign supreme, he's missing a few key points: Chrome OS, HTML5, Apple, Google Labs, and Android fragmentation. It's also worth noting that Google is on a hiring spree; the mobile app developers make up a tiny fraction of the new Googler's the company plans to hire.

Do users love interacting with the web on 3 inch screens? No. Do specialized apps work better on small screens? Oftentimes, yes. And how about the iPhone, that silly little smartphone from some company in California that so many people seem to like? It doesn't support Flash, so the web experiences available to users before HTML5 becomes prevalent aren't exactly rich. Mobile apps, of course, bypass that issue, enabling great experiences on Flashless small screens.

Interestingly, though, the majority of data usage on mobile phones comes from actual web surfing. Mobile access to data and information remains the primary use case for these devices (and tablets, for that matter). People may be downloading billions (literally) of apps, but they still spend extraordinary amounts of time simply online with their phones.

What if the web experience could be as rich as the native app experience? A look at what Google (as well as Microsoft and Zoho, among others) has done to replicate and, in some ways, advance, productivity software presented as a web-based service shows just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rich web applications.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to use Chrome OS or access web apps from the Chrome Web Store knows that sophisticated applications are quite possible from within the browser, the best of which are indistinguishable from OS-native applications. As this technology trickles down to mobile (or, perhaps more likely, is advanced by the mobile space) and HTML5 makes web applications across platforms possible that could previously have only been achieved with Flash, users will increasingly not care whether they access functionality via a browser or a native application. Both will look great and work seamlessly.

Next: It's all about the user experience and building momentum »

When users enable it in Chrome (and by default in Chrome OS), newly-opened browser tabs look remarkably like the lists of icons we see on iOS and Android smartphones. One word, folks: convergence. Keep in mind that they mobile app developers for whom Google is looking are largely UX (user experience) experts. Who better to ensure that applications built to run within a browser look and feel as robust as native apps?

Certainly, though, Google's hiring of mobile app developers will mean new apps available shortly directly from Google in the Apps Marketplace. Regardless of Google's ultimate vision of a browser in every pot, so to speak, Apple loves to tout the sheer volume of apps in their own App Store. If Google can inject creative and inspiring apps into their own often-panned Marketplace, more third-party developers will follow suit.

Notice the language that Google uses in the recruiting documents: "software engineers, product managers, user-interface experts and others who have ideas for mobile apps." These new hires are going to be thought leaders and creative experts to take mobile applications (whether they run natively or in a mobile browser) to the next level and set new standards for the non-Google developers who increasingly are looking to Android as a platform of choice.

Internal employees also have access to Google Labs (as in, they're the ones who fill it up with creative, innovative ideas that can then either sink or swim with users). We have yet to see Labs mobile applications and new hires who have some creative freedoms will be required for Android to truly take on Apple's countless apps and flawless interface. We don't need any new fart apps. We need something brilliant. Remember that Gmail itself came out of Labs.

Finally, the fragmentation of the Android platform presents serious issues for developers. A strong group of internal developers can better explore, address, remediate, and mitigate the problem for Google and the developer ecosystem.

In a world where Web apps are king, the platform fragmentation will have less significance. We're not there yet, though, and Google obviously needs to address the needs of developers and it's app-related public relations and marketing issues, hiring some top-notch mobile developers is hardly a step back from their long-term strategy or Chrome OS. On the contrary, it buys the company time as the technology catches up with the vision, as well as providing Google with important opportunities to fine tune the idea of a web application.

Topics: CXO, Browser, Google, Mobility, Software Development, IT Employment

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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14 comments
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  • web apps are DEFINITELY, STILL distinguishable from dedicated apps

    Use Flixter in Chrome and then on the iPad app and tell me there is not difference.. c'mon man.. HTML5 or not.. Web apps are still laggy and unresponsive compared to dedicated apps.. they are usable, but you can DEFINITELY tell the difference..

    at the end of the day who the hell cares.. users want access to stuff and they want good experience.. majority of dedicated apps ARE connected online anyway.. you don't need to be an a browser to be online.. who cares if you are accessing the web through a browser or not.. it's not relevant any more.. in fact many apps on iOS use webkit to display web pages from within the app itself and users don't even realize it..

    there is a great distinction for Google because with webpage based apps it means that they can't be locked out of providing services or mobile advertising or collecting user data on a platform with webpage based apps.. that's why they wan to push that but.. for users who cares.. dedicated apps are better performing and provide a better experience and can provide access to online, up to the second data, cloud data etc just like web apps..
    doctorSpoc
    • Well, Google will sure not complain about people locking themselves to the

      Android platform via native applications!!! But, long term, they realize that web apps is the way to go, and performance (and functionality) issues will be a thing of the past. Now, that said, another run-time besides JavaScript would be a good idea.
      DonnieBoy
    • RE: Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

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  • RE: Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

    6000 more people to sit around and play with office toys all day. I'm expecting the same amount of productivity that Google has now, which is zero.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

      @Loverock Davidson
      you don't get!
      They will bring tons of $$$ because the native apps will fed advertisements just like the browser.
      So no more loopholes for freeloaders and more power to Google and OSS!
      Linux Geek
  • Of course data usage is from the web

    When you surf the web, the "app" and the content are often commingled. For content consumption scenarios (which phones and tablets are most often used for), you download large HTML pages, where only a small fraction of the page is the actual content you care about. For example, the HTML page for this article is 110KB, but the content of the article itself is only 3KB of that. (This is the final, raw size, not counting any compression that may have taken place further down in the stack.)

    Then, you have stylesheets, images, flash ads, and scripts; these typically don't change so browser caching will generally alleviate the cost here. Except of course there is the cost of parsing/compiling/running the scripts, parsing/applying the stylesheets, which you generally will do with each navigation.

    So yes, surfing the web is going to give you large data usage. Unless of course the site gives you mobile-specific content, but many mobile-specific sites are pretty bad, and Apple/Google have touted how their mobile browser lets you experience the "real" web with performance and ease.

    Rich web "apps", such as Gmail, are less "commingled" in that the actual data of your inbox/messages is not embedded in the main HTML page, rather downloaded separately through Ajax. However, an often-touted benefit of such web "apps" is that updates are immediately available to users; the downside is that you will have to download the updated "app" each time it changes.

    Native apps, on the other hand, are designed with the assumption that the app itself doesn't change often, so the only thing that needs to be downloaded/uploaded is the data. This is much lighter on data plans.
    PB_z
  • another nail in M$ coffin

    windoze is going down!
    Linux Geek
    • Well, Win32 applications are becoming much less important, and people will

      spend much more of their computer time on alternate platforms that can not run Win32 applications. That is true. Very interesting times!
      DonnieBoy
  • Why would they work for Google?

    All it takes to make a mobile app, is an idea, the development software for these platforms is free, the only real costs is the cost of the mobile phones and translations, and that's not much.

    Difficult to see the attraction unless Google pays out more than it makes from the app.

    I can see Nokia doing that, to catch up (and to make apps that don't use ads and thus don't feed competitor Google, and don't suck down expensive bandwidth), but can't see why Google would given Android is a popular platform.
    guihombre
  • Google understands that its all about applications if Android and ChromeOS

    are going to be more successful.
    DonnieBoy
  • Nobody wants to develop for this Andud os...

    ...so they now have to bribe (i mean pay) people.
    james347
  • Why are these developers chasing a job and not sharting their own????

    Why chase another 6am to 10pm job when you have the talent to start your own business. I'm dying to find mobile developers that want to launch a new venture. I have the idea and the funding, need partners. chasmfinancial@gmail.com
    chasmfinancial@...
  • RE: Google hiring mobile app developers...And 6000 other Googlers

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  • Cheryl Ray

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    Cheryl Ray