Search-engine giant Google launched a new service Wednesday that it hopes will reverse the trend of people gravitating away from the World Wide Web in favor of Facebook and other apps on their mobile phones.
The new service, called Amp, works by partnering with news publishers and other content providers to help them create Web content that downloads to mobile phones and tablets up to 85 times faster.
It’s a seemingly simple concept and one that consumers may not even notice. But the stakes are high for Google, which competes with apps such as Facebook for eyeballs and ad dollars.
That battle has gotten tougher on smartphones and tablets, where apps generate three times as much attention as the Web, according to research firm eMarketer. The trend toward in-app browsing is only expected to worsen over time. By 2017, the gap is expected to widen to three hours and 23 minutes on mobile apps vs. just 52 minutes on the mobile Web, eMarketer predicts.
“We love the World Wide Web. To some degree, on mobile, it has not fully satisfied users’ expectations,” said Google’s head of news, Richard Gingras. “We are hoping to change that,” Gingras said at a launch event Wednesday in Manhattan.
One reason for the gap is speed. When users click on a news link and it’s slow to respond, they will exit and go elsewhere. “That’s not good for us,” Gingras said.
Early results show download speeds up to 85 times faster when content is created using Amp, said David Besbris, vice president of engineering at Google.
Google launched the new Amp service, which is being co-sponsored by Twitter, to a room full of news publishers at a cafe in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Twitter is a stand-alone app but it also relies on Web-generated links to drive traffic.
The Amp service is free for content providers, Google’s executives said. They expect to eventually expand the service beyond news content to other mobile content providers.
“This is about making sure the World Wide Web is not the World Wide Wait. And to make sure that platform evolves,” Gingras said.
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