I’d like to open with the following comment on one of my anti-AMP shares, that I received today.
HI I see that you have constant opposition to AMP because it renders badly on iphone. Do you know how expensive is DATA here in 3rd world?
Native websites, force people to load trackers + install stupid apps (no space in a 4GB android phone). Please once try to get a cheap android phone and you will realize how good AMP is for us to read news. Example visit: ndtv.com indiatimes.com
Seriously, please I am not for support Google. Please do not tell me to buy used iphone to get privacy which also costs $200 (2 months salary). You need a mac to create a “apple-email” account (which costs 4months salary).
I am not a troll supporting Google. I have in my cheap Moto E (pure LineageOS – NO Google Play) works for 2 days without charge. I too hope Google will open up more, but privacy for rich is not fine. We, the poor, need technology even if it means Google puts AMP.
Why are you happy that apple puts walled garden? You have a choice to use a different OS or phone or browser? In linux, even uploading to iPhotos is NOT possible? icloud/ical/Mail all work terrible – try it once.
I am sorry.
I would also like to mention the following Tweet. It’s older, but seem relevant:
Not acknowledging that AMP makes the difference between being able to read the content and not for some people is 100% tech privilege.
— Filippo Valsorda (@FiloSottile) June 11, 2017
Finally, I would like to give credit to this article Embrace AMP or AMP Wins. I did not see it take off on Social Media, but in my opinion it’s a great piece of writing, and deserve a lot of attention. I am going to quote the most important part:
Anti-AMP advocacy has reached a fevered pitch. And that negative advocacy is accomplishing exactly nothing. It is founded in a denial that is providing a clear road for AMP to achieve world domination.
Because in the end it is a better user experience. Being on a mobile device and seeing the icon ⚡ is an immediate assurance that not only will the page load almost instantly, it won’t have delay-load modal overlays (Subscribe! Like us on Facebook!), it won’t throw you into redirect hell, it won’t have device-choking scripts doing spurious things.
As one of the “fevered” haters of AMP, I would like to apologize for loosing track of what is important.
My history with AMP
Here are all of the post that I’ve done on AMP and my though on them.
October 15, 2016 – Google May Be Stealing Your Mobile Traffic
At this time I knew very little about AMP. I thought it was just a subset of HTML optimized to work better on mobile devices. When I realized that Google was caching the content and serving it from their own domain name and servers, I thought I uncovered scandal of the century. I couldn’t believe that I was not reading about this in the news, and that there was no public outcry against such practice.
In fact, majority of people didn’t seem to care at all, but this post did get some good traction on Hacker News.
Following my initial post on Hacker News, I was invited to have lunch with Malte Ubl (Product Manger for AMP) and Paul Bakaus (Developer Advocate for AMP). Both struck me as very intelligent guys that cared deeply about making the mobile web better and who were genuinely surprised by my article and the support that it received on Hacker News.
It was a great opportunity for me to express some concerns that I’ve had with AMP, as well as for them to answer my questions. This post was mainly documenting the outcome of our discussion. Unfortunately, there were some things that I’ve heard in that meeting that I didn’t like. Most importantly that AMP support and AMP cache were requirement in order to appear in Google news carousel at the top of the search results.
January 14, 2017 – AMP Toolbar Is Now Scrollable on Mobile Safari
One of my smaller complains about AMP were that AMP tool bar was blocking a lot of real estate on iPhone. As promised, AMP team delivered a fix for it (which was already in the works when we met) and I just blogged to help spread the good news.
February 8, 2017 – AMP Toolbar Now Has a Button to View and Copy the Original URL
My bigger complain about AMP was that it did not provide a way to share the original (canonical) URL, since the link in the browser was pointing to
google.com/amp cache version of content. The AMP toolbar displayed the right URL, but there was no easy way to copy it. This release added a link button, that allowed to get the canonical URL.
February 26, 2017 – AMP Link Button and Speaking Up
This was a pat myself on the back post. Not too harmful, but not incredibly useful either.
June 10, 2017 – Please Make Google AMP Optional
This is probably my worst post on the subject. Instead of acting as an adult, I acted more as a little kid, who would cover their ears and yell “I don’t want AMP”, “I don’t want AMP!!!!!!!!!!!”.
I still think I had a valid point. AMP is being muscled into our lives and it would be nice if people had a way to opt out. A good thing about opt out is that it might silence some critics, while still having the technology available to those who use it. Making a stance, however, is not the best way to get this message across.
In addition, I was secretly hoping that this move will be a trojan horse against AMP, since if a lot of people would opt out from that experience, it would prove that AMP was not as good as people were making it out to be. I think that adoption of any new technology (AMP included) should be driven by metrics. What I do feel bad about, is not being explicit about my reasoning. Especially considering that the AMP team made good on a number of earlier requests from the dev community. For that, I apologize.
June 26, 2017 – I decided to disable AMP on my site
This was a better articulated post on why I no longer wanted to participate in AMP as a publisher. The decision was triggered by a realization that Twitter was now redirecting users to AMP version of my posts, even though users were sharing the canonical URLs. This really freaked me out, since it showed that AMP was spreading, kind of like cancer.
In addition, I made a promise in this post to work on making my website more Mobile-user friendly, without AMP. Something that is easier said than done.
June 26, 2017 – How to Disable AMP on WordPress
This was just a how-to article for some of the steps that I took to remove AMP from my site.
July 26, 2017 – One Month Without AMP
I believe I was explicit about my agenda in this article. In it I provided numbers that I believe showed that Google did not penalize my site for NOT having AMP (as was promised by Malte). I also urged small (non news) site owners to avoid implementing AMP.
September 1, 2017 – Some thoughts on AMP at Condé Nast
I genuinely tried to stop writing about AMP, but I saw The Why and How of Google AMP at Condé Nast posted on Hacker News and it really set me off. I can see AMP being beneficial for platforms like Google and Twitter. I can see it being beneficial for users. But I just don’t see how it can possibly benefit big publishers, who have the needed resources to implement proper mobile versions of their sites (top carousel aside).
September 1, 2017 – Dear Twitter, Please Make AMP Optional
Literally around the same time as the previous post, I visited a link on Twitter, and was taken to AMP version of a site that I know and like. Which prompted me to write this article. I submitted both of the articles to Hacker News, but only this one happened to take off.
I’d like to quote some, Hacker News comments by endorphone that started me on a line of thinking that eventually brought me to this post.
I feel like this constant anti-AMP rhetoric has extraordinarily little to do with users, and primarily are web developers who don’t like that AMP rolls back a lot of abuses. The argument isn’t just “I don’t like AMP”, it’s “No one should like AMP!” and it grows tiresome.
But the common argument is nonsensical. Yes of course sites could make non-abusive, readable content. But they don’t. The non-stickiness of the web, coupled with a low attention span of users, has yielded a sort of tragedy of the commons. AMP is a standard to say “this can’t do that”.
We should have an HTMLite of the sort like AMP. Like how Google Gears became a variety of accepted web standards, it should build into something rather than the nonsensical claim that it does nothing.
…Secondly, I think the biggest strawman is this notion that it’s AMP vs some conceptual “open web”. That open web you like has much more formidable competitors and was the reason AMP appeared.
Right. This person is saying “The last time I bitched on AMP it got hyped, so here it is again”. I’m not talking about the author. I’m talking about the crowds on here that vigorously vote up everything anti-AMP.
It plays to the crowd. I get it, and I’d do the same.
Your original argument was that you purposefully enabled and published AMP on your site and then complained that Google `stole’ your content, which normally would elicit groans and criticism on a technology site, but it played to the crowd. I’d keep playing that tune as long as people will listen.
I think this person is right in two aspects:
- Anti-AMP crowd does ignore the real benefits that AMP provides, and good on him for standing up to our mob to point it out.
- I did, at least to some extent, continued to write about AMP because I knew that this subject had an audience.
Just to be clear, I got almost no tangible rewards for writing my anti AMP articles, may be $50 worth of Adsense revenue for over 50 hours of work. If anything, I am pretty sure it did a lot more harm than good for my self interest. But there is an ego boost from writing something that gets a lot of attention and there absolutely were a few times in my life where I thought “let me write something about AMP” when I needed one.
Where we are now
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate just how much AMP team was able to accomplish.
I would imagine it all started about 3 years ago, with Google becoming aware that:
- Majority of new users (their potential future market) that were getting online were doing so on cheap mobile devices.
- Mobile Web was so bloated that those users were forced to consume the web trough native apps of their competitors like Facebook.
- Most publishers were not incentivized enough to maintain a good mobile version of their site.
At which point they came up with a plan to:
- Create an optimized web standard that would still work for their use case (ads)
- Figure out a strategy to get this standard adopted
I believe the adoption strategy was:
- Find big name publishers and convince them to implement AMP, explaining this will place them at the top of Google search results. (Who can say no to that?)
- Once enough publishers signed up, announce this standard to the public.
- Watch the rest of the web aggressively adopt the new standard in order to also appear at the top of Google search results.
I may have guessed correctly or I might be completely wrong, but the fact of the matter is that almost a million of domain names now implements AMP, including such big names as CNN, BBC, New York Times, Reddit etc.
In my observation (and I’ve been following AMP closely) the implementation has improved a lot since I wrote my initial post almost a year ago.
Most importantly, I believe that Google’s interest align fairly well with the interest of the users with low powered/low data devices. That is the reason why so few people are speaking out against AMP, they are happy with it. I tried to find frustrated AMP users on multiple occasion, and while there are some, usually they are pretty hard to find. Considering the scale of AMP, it definitely speaks in it’s favor.
As a side note, adoption of AMP also demonstrated just how much control Google has over the web.
I’d like to quote Embrace AMP or AMP Wins again:
But the argument that as a subset it therefore isn’t needed — missing the point entirely — is self-defeating because that argument has short circuited any ability to talk about the need that AMP addresses, and how to make a more palatable, truly open and truly beneficial solution.
We need to embrace the theory of AMP while rejecting the centralized control and monitor that it entails.
I’d like this post to be my apology for any ego boosting activity I might have partaken in the past and a reminder to avoid similar activities in the future.
Going forward, I’d like my involvement with anything AMP related to be more constructive and less destructive. Instead of just “bitching” about things that I don’t like about the AMP, I’d like to actually do some work both related to AMP (advocating for users, publishers and open-ish web) and outside of AMP (advocating for users) to make things better.
Hopefully one day we’ll be able to look back at AMP as a first step in the right direction.