GOOGLE HAS BEEN attacked by web devs over one of its initiatives that, they say, will effectively enable it to annex large swathes of the internet.
In an open letter to the company, they accuse it of trying to use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to pull-in ever-more traffic to the Google domain, and away from the publishers that created it.
More than 600 disgruntled web devs and publishers have signed the strongly-worded letter, which will no doubt have CEO Sunder Pichai, Larry Page and the other bloke quaking in their expensive boots.
On the surface, Accelerated Mobile Pages is intended to improve web users' experience. However, the developers and publishers fear it is part of an 'embrace, extend, extinguish' strategy being pursued by the internet behemoth.
AMP keeps users within Google's domain and diverts traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google
"We are a community of individuals who have a significant interest in the development and health of the World Wide Web ("the Web"), and we are deeply concerned about Accelerated Mobile Pages," they write in their letter.
The signatories claim that Google is stealing internet users from other websites. The letter continues: "AMP keeps users within Google's domain and diverts traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google."
Facebook's rival initiative, Instant Articles, has been accused of trying to do pretty much the same kind of thing.
"At a scale of billions of users, this has the effect of further reinforcing Google's dominance of the Web. We acknowledge the problem of Web pages being slow to load, relative to alternative, proprietary technologies such as Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News."
According to the letter, news publishers "have long faced difficult choices and poor incentives", which has led to "bad decisions and compromises". As a result, users get terrible browsing experiences.
The authors believe that it's the job of Google to fix this problem, given its contribution to ad-laden web pages by taking a disproportionate share of the online advertising market, on the one had, while crashing ad rates, on the other.
But the company has allegedly "chosen to create a premium position at the top of their search results".
Publishers should not be compelled by Google's search dominance to put their content under a Google umbrella
They write about two aspects of Google's AMP project that are causing massive problems for publishers and internet users, but are helping Google to reinforce itself as the "de facto standard platform for content".
"Content that opts-in to AMP and the associated hosting within Google's domain is granted preferential search promotion, including (for news articles) a position above all other results," they said, referring to the first aspect.
The second, they said, is: "When a user navigates from Google to a piece of content Google has recommended, they are, unwittingly, remaining within Google's ecosystem."
"We don't want to stop Google's development of AMP, and these changes do not require that. We also applaud search engines that give ranking preference to fast-loading pages," added the letter.
This has the effect of further reinforcing Google's dominance of the Web
"AMP can remain one of a range of technologies that give publishers high quality options for delivering Web pages quickly and making users happy.
"However, publishers should not be compelled by Google's search dominance to put their content under a Google umbrella. The Web is not Google, and should not be just Google." µ
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