Early mobile device helped fuel the app economy. While revolutionary at the time, this strategy has created "app silos" - a concept that conflicts with the notion of the open web.
In a Re/Code article, Mark Bergen talks about how Google is trying to plan and envision a world beyond apps. The search giant's strategy might originate from self-interest, but Bergen feels there is more to it.
Google earns more money when people are on the mobile Web, not in apps. Publicly, the company has voiced support for solving the nagging problems of apps, discovery and dormancy. Internally, however, chatter is less about crippling apps than imagining a world beyond them.
Currently the app experience and the web experience are quite different, but Google is trying to make transitioning between them more seamless. Google's goal is to index all mobile apps. When a user does a mobile search for something - a movie for example - there might be an option to open that result in the IMDB app (an app that has a list of TV shows and movie information). As of last Tuesday, Google is going to down-rank mobile websites that display adds that encourage users to install the app instead. Why? Because Google's argument is that anything that prevents the user from seeing the content is bad. However, Google isn't the only company that's trying this strategy.
A primary vehicle for doing so is app indexing and deep linking, methods to tie content within and between apps. Apple and a host of Silicon Valley startups are doing this as well. But Google’s effort is unique in that it is wrapped tightly with search and artificial intelligence — and, like Google’s approach to the Web, it is all-encompassing in its scope.
Though, as Mark Bergen notes, indexing the world of apps might be more difficult that anticipated.
Reaching that world beyond apps may be more difficult for Google than it was before. Google needs the buy-in from app makers. And it may need to fight off rivals and regulators. Competition authorities in the European Union, currently pursuing a case against Google for its comparison shopping product, have said they are open to extending the case to other services. At least one complainant noted the issue raised this week, of blocking of app-install ads in search results, in its statement to the EU, according to documents seen by Re/code.