AMP — Google’s collaborative project to speed up the loading time for mobile web pages — is getting an interesting acceleration of its own today. Relay Media, a company founded by an ex-Googler that had developed technology to help covert web pages to the AMP format, has been acquired by Google.
The company announced the news on its home page, to its customers (one of whom tipped the news to us), and on its LinkedIn page. We have reached out to Google to get a statement and will update this post as we learn more.
For now, what we know is that it looks like Google may be closing down Relay Media as part of the deal but will continue to operate the service as the tech is transferred to Google’s platform, but new publisher onboarding will be put on hold for the time being.
“We’re excited to announce that Google has acquired Relay Media’s AMP Converter technology,” the company writes. “Service for current customers will continue uninterrupted as we transition the Relay Media AMP Converter to Google’s infrastructure. We’re pausing new publisher onboarding as we focus on the integration effort.”
It’s an interesting development for AMP, which Google has been building over the last couple of years as it looks for ways to show that the mobile web remains a viable alternative to building native apps. (Why? Because Google makes a lot of revenues from mobile search, so more people opting to use apps means less people opting for Google’s mobile search.)
Originally aimed at publications on the web, AMP has more recently extended to e-commerce and other kinds of online content. Google earlier this year said was used on over 2 billion AMP pages covering some 900,000 domains.
The promise of AMP is that pages using the coding can load twice as fast as regular pages, leading to less abandonment by those trying to visit them.
The downside for publishers is that they have less control over how those pages look and can be monetised. One criticism has been that AMP pages (and their counterparts on other sites like Facebook’s Instant Articles) essentially take readers away from publishers’ own domains, and on to Google domains, and so the traffic becomes harder to measure.
The fact that Relay Media has been acquired now by Google is not too much of a surprise: I’m not sure longer term whether a business model offering a standalone conversion technology to run pages in AMP was as viable as simply being a part of the bigger platform for which the conversion was originally intended.
Relay Media’s co-founder and CEO David Gehring still lists Relay as his employer on his LinkedIn profile. Others from the startup are already noting new roles at Google.
We’ll update this as we learn more.