Google has a new plan to cripple the iPhone app store model and rule the mobile world

Photo: Getty

At Google’s annual developer’s conference on Wednesday the company previewed a lot of new tech.

One thing it showed off was something called Android Instant Apps.

While Android Instant didn’t turn heads like Google’s new home automation product, Home, or its virtual reality tech, Daydream, it could be the announcement that has some of the most profound implications for Google and its developers, one developer told us.

It’s basically Google’s way of taking on Apple iOS and “upending the app store model that’s been so profitable to Apple,” a developer who has been talking to Google officials at the I/O conference tells Business Insider.

The ultimate end game is to kill the traditional app store model altogether.

“They are trying to replace it and go back to the web model where they have had so much success. Google wants to break the notion of the App Store,” this person told us.

Today’s mobile is not Google’s world

Android Instant gives Android users the ability to access an Android app (or even just part of it) even though they do not have the actual app installed on their phone.

Android InstantYouTube/GoogleAndroid Instant

For instance, a friend texts you a link to a recipe video but you don’t have the video app installed. Click on the link and the app will run the video anyway, no install required.

As Google explains in its video about Android Instant, this makes mobile apps work like the web. On the internet today, if you click on a link, you are taken to a web page. You are not asked to install an app. You are not taken to the home page, but to the actual thing you want to see.

Thanks to Apple’s App store model, mobile apps don’t work that way. Apple makes money by selling apps. So the mobile world has evolved to encourage you to download an app. Consequently, developers with ad-supported apps focus on downloads, monthly active users, daily active users and so on.

This is not Google’s world. Google rose to dominance on the web by studying what people are doing, so that advertisers could target potential customers. Consequently, Google still makes more money from web search ads than from mobile services.

And this is a problem since the world is shifting to mobile

A mobile technology called deep linking is supposed to provide this same kind linking function. Troubled startup Quixey offers deep linking tech, as does DeepLink and URX (bought by Pinterest). 

SundarPichaiIOYouTubeGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai

Google has deep linking tech in Android, too, called App Link. And Android Instant takes all of that the step further, by eliminating the problem of making someone install the app.

Google has basically required developers to use App Link.

Google changed its search algorithms so that apps that use App Link scored higher in search. Apps that didn’t, were not ranked as high and weren’t as likely to be featured in the app store, the developer tells us.

On top of that, the developers website search ranking might also be impacted, as apps (both iOS and Android) that use deep linking to link to websites score higher in Google’s search algorithm too, Google has said.

In other words: use the tech in your app or your app, and your website, will be harder to find via Google.

The developer we talked to believes Google will use the same incentive for Android Instant.

Developers like it

But developers won’t need a lot of encouragement. Many developers love the idea of Android Instant. Those who make apps for developing worlds for low-end phones with less memory, really love it.

Others hope it’s going to make their apps easier to find the old search-the-App-Store method, this developer says.

Ultimately, Google hopes that instant apps become so popular on Android, that iOS users demand the same from Apple, thus ending the App Store model for good.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Here’s a video that shows off Android Instant.

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