Google App Engine: “Metaphor Shift”


I wrote last night a bit about Google’s just-launched App Engine. Quite frankly, I sensed it was something big, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I needed a night to reflect and a chance to hear how folks who were at the announcement thought about it. So far, I think the best analysis is from David Recordon. I highly recommend his post on the subject, which includes:

“During the presentation, I tweeted, “Thinking App Engine with Google Accounts integration is a threat to both Facebook Platform and OpenSocial. Metaphor shift.” I thought a decent amount, well at least a few seconds, before I SMS’d that, since I knew it would be lacking quite a bit of context.”

Similar thoughts from Silicon Valley Insider, sealed the deal for me. Something big is going on here. With App Engine, Google is changing the rules of the the platform wars, in a way that is consistent with the vision behind Open Social. I do think the relevent competing platform is not Amazon or Microsoft, but rather Facebook. App Engine is infrastructure for accelerating the emergence of the next generation of applications for the Social Web. Smart move, me thinks.

Not everyone sees the startegic threat to Facebook, though.

As to whether this move is in line with the vision of “open,” it’s worth hearing a strong voice of dissent from a company that may feel the competitive threat of App Engine more directly than anyone else, Joyent.

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