Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Long-Term Price of AMP

Ethan Marcotte:

I’ve had a few conversations with members of the Google AMP team, and I do believe they care about making the web better. But given how AMP pages are privileged in Google’s search results, the net effect of the team’s hard, earnest work comes across as a corporate-backed attempt to rewrite HTML in Google’s image. Now, I don’t know if these new permutations of AMP will gain traction among publishers. But I do know that no single company should be able to exert this much influence over the direction of the web.

Marcotte’s concerns echo my own.

Here’s the thing: if AMP were pitched by a big web company that is not Google and was similarly preferred in search results, I would not find it quite as objectionable — I would still object, but I don’t think it would be quite as serious an issue. If AMP were not preferenced by Google in search results, I would have less of a problem. If AMP did not require a Google-hosted JavaScript file to render correctly and be validated, I would have less of a problem.

But it is all of these things combined that creates a conflict-of-interest problem and makes AMP objectionable. Add to that Google’s already-dominating power on the web — in search, email, analytics, advertising, video, maps, music, and more — and it makes Google’s push for publishers to adopt AMP as a total power grab.

If AMP is anything other than a power grab, then Google should have no problem submitting its spec to W3C and untangling its own involvement in it other than through official W3C channels. I doubt that they will ever do that.