The real reason why Google wants to speed up the Web

In June Google launched a Web community with the specific long-term goal to make the Web faster. The tone of Google’s presentation when launching this initiative was very much “let’s do this for the good of the world”.

Here is a section from the FAQ, explaining why Google wants to speed up the Web:

Improving the speed of the web will help not just Google but the entire web community because it will:

  • Increase the number of internet users globally, thus making information more accessible
  • Help developers produce better more responsive web apps, comparable in performance to desktop apps. This will make the web more engaging to current users, who will start using it more, for tasks that until now were only possible in desktop apps
  • Help new applications and markets emerge

Overall we believe that speeding up the web will improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people.

Although we like the altruistic aspects of this, it’s worth noting that Google is looking out for number one here. Google is doing this because it’s good for Google.

Google’s business model is entirely dependent on the Web, and even minor improvements of the Web overall will affect Google’s bottom line more than most other companies due to the scale of its operations. It’s in Google’s own best interest to make the Web as fast and as widely used as possible.

Some of the main benefits for Google would be:

  • Faster crawling: Faster websites and faster communications means it’s easier and faster for Google to crawl the information available, a necessary criterion for the real-time Web everyone is talking about these days. Faster crawling might even provide cost savings because less time will spent on downloading pages.
  • More ad impressions: Faster web pages will mean less aborted page downloads, which leads to more page views, which will help Google because statistically this means more ads can be served.
  • More Internet users: One side effect of a faster, better Internet is more users. And few companies are better positioned to benefit from this than Google as they can expand their “customer base” even more.
  • Improving the viability of the Web as a platform: The Chrome OS, anyone? If the Web is ever going to become THE platform for our applications, it needs to become a lot faster and more responsive.
  • It’s good for Google’s datacenters: This is connected with the point above; the Web as a platform. Google’s “cloud” essentially consists of multiple interconnected datacenters (lots of them). The faster and more efficient the Internet becomes, the better these datacenters can work together.

In the end, this all translates into one thing: More money for Google.

Ultimately, the more people that use the Web, the more people can use Google’s products in one manner or the other. The more people that use Google’s products, the more statistics and data it can collect, and the more page views there are in the world, the more Google ads can be served, and so on. And thanks to Google’s scale, they can benefit from this probably more than any other company in the world.

We’re not complaining, though. Regardless of the motives, getting a faster Internet is a good thing for everyone (including many of Google’s competitors). There’s nothing that says you can’t be self-serving and do good at the same time, as long as your goals are in line with those of the general population.

We’re curious, though… What are your thoughts on this, dear readers?


  1. Of all blogs, I expected this one to know the difference between “web” and “Internet.” Let me see if I can lay this out for you without doing the ones-and-zeroes speech: the Internet is how information can be sent to and from anywhere in the world almost instantly. The web is one of several systems built on top of the Internet where browsers connect to servers to download information which they display in the form of “pages”

    Now that that’s out of the way: Google is trying to make “the web” faster, by which they mean that they’re making the user’s experience with the browser more efficient. The techniques they’re advocating are specific to the web, and do not apply to the Internet. They’re suggestions will not make email faster, or make your movies download more quickly.

    This completely invalidates your point about being able to crawl the web faster — Google’s spider is not an army of people sitting in front of Firefox. Your suggestion that a faster web will help Google’s datacenters communicate more quickly is similarly ignorant — Google’s datacenters communicate with one another over the Internet, not using web browsers. As a matter of fact, Google owns much of the backhaul connectivity between their datacenters, and thus does not use any other company’s bandwidth for backend communications.

    1. @Dustin: Wow, that was a pretty condescending comment. From what we understand, Google means to promote speed improvements on all fronts in the long run, including the infrastructure (Internet), which is what we were talking about here. The points are perfectly valid.

  2. Everything Google does is with it’s best interests in mind. What makes them such an amazing company is they’re still able to spend the indie cred they earned as the “young upstart” to cloud their motives. Many people still believe they are a benevolent organization seeking to free us from our Gates-ian shackles.

    Moving data centers close to alternative energy sources is spun as caring about the environment, but equally as important is the cheaper electricity which helps Google make $$. Chrome OS is spun as innovation to make our lives better, but equally as important is keeping us online longer which helps Google make $$.

    You can really make the same argument for most companies. However, most companies aren’t able to camouflage their motives as well. Example- Microsoft releases their Vine social site and people scream “Twitter ripoff!”. Google blatantly rips off FriendFeed features and people scream “RSS readers are back!!”. It’s astonishing really.

  3. The ugly truth is everyone is always acting out of self interest 100% of the time. Google is, and can be, no different from you or I in this respect.
    Whether be it indirectly to get this warm feeling (or to avoid a bad/worse feeling), recognition or more directly to make more money.

    It is neither good nor bad nor even ugly.. it just is the state of Man as a self conscious being. When self interests are harmonious it maximizes the happiness for more individuals and is the basis for cooperation and civilization. Again, it is self interest that pushes men to associate, compromise and foster honesty.

    Altruism is not dead.. it simply never was and never will be, so long as we are who we are. Irrespective of how altruistic the action may seem to be at first glance, the fact of the matter is we always choose to act to avoid unhappiness, according to our own judgement, which may differ from others’. If giving away money will make me happier than keeping it, it does not matter why, only that it does, and the result is selfish action whose ultimate goal is to maximize my own happiness.

    The takeaway from this article really is: Google’s executives’ motives are many, among which is making more money (and here’s how), benefiting everyone else in the process. This is a good example of harmonious self interests.. you’ll be hard pressed to find any example of altruism at all.

  4. I love how doing something that benefits both you and a larger community automatically enables the outside observer to discern your *actual* intent. How very cynical — as if the actual positive benefits to the community don’t exist at all!

    To be truly worthy of praise, you must do something that benefits the world, but harms yourself. Only then will you have succeeded in being praise-worthy.

  5. So, Google wants money. Is that bad? I don’t think so, because it’s all they did all these years, and it’s what other people do a lot. Hardly any other people really care of the world around them in their anticipation for money. Does Microsoft try to do something like this? Bayer AG to make us all run in the morning? Toyota for everlasting car? No.

    Personally I don’t see anything bad in the fact that someone wants money – even my money. Money is the blood of this monetary, profit oriented world – not my own blood. It’s the blood of the companies, their life, we put this blood into them and make them want our money – because we want to see these companies acting and producing, but we don’t want to donate anything else except for painted paper.

    Obviously, everything a profitable company does if profit-oriented (you don’t go feed mosquitos just for fun, there must be some reasons, unless you’re idiot). Google are ingenius.

  6. Are you suggesting we should hope in a SLOWER web? 🙂

    We all hope in a faster web, doesn’t matter WHO will takes advanges from that (a part users, of course) 😉

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