As expected, Google opens up its cloud to host software applications and services—and developers quickly complain that it is too restrictive. They say it offers less than Amazon’s similar service. Check out the comments on Techcrunch. But I think a few of the commenters on Techcrunch have it right. This is a first step. Google will figure out what works and broaden the offering.
What does this mean? It’s a big step toward turning Google’s cloud, the biggest distributed computing system on earth, into the world’s preeminent computer. Think of computing like its first cousin, energy. (Computing, if you think about it, is just a highly processed form of electricity.) If Google can offer cheaper and more efficient computing than anyone else, the company could position itself as the Saudi Arabia of the information economy. It could add capacity and drive down prices, punishing competitors, or take capacity offline, driving prices up. That said, with every giant data center it adds to its cloud, Google is betting on its status quo. If someone comes along and develops a more efficient cloud architecture, Google’s computing empire could become a crushing legacy. Not that I see that coming anytime soon. Here’s Eric Schmidt talking about clouds in November.