You may have heard of Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project. It is intended to ‘make the web better for all’, by helping developers to create websites that look and perform consistently on all devices.

Essentially, you create another version of your page using a subset of HTML, JS and CSS (and some AMP-specific tags). These pages are then shown in Google’s mobile search results accompanied by a ⚡ logo.

The site is cached on Google’s server, meaning the page is served from their cache in future.

AMP Pages look like this when they appear in search results:

Google Amp Results

Google are trying to solve the right problem. We’re seeing web pages getting larger and larger. That’s fine on a desktop machine with fast internet, but costly and frustrating on mobile devices with poor or intermittent connections.

Google’s AMP is absolutely the wrong solution, though.

We have web standards for a reason. We all agreed on what HTML should look like, and the web is based on all of us adhering to that standard. AMP sets a dangerous precident, where commercial interests are able to dictate their own ‘standards’. The very idea of AMP is against the fundamental principles of the open web.

The consequence of this is vendor lock-in. In order to appear in the news carousel pictured above, you must have an AMP version of your page. Your mobile site might be the fastest on the internet.. tough - write it again using Google mandated HTML or lose out to publishers that do.

If this is really an attempt to improve the performance of the mobile web, Google has a better option. They have already indicated that they have the ability to use a page’s performance to affect search rankings. Giving page speed a more significant weighting in their ranking algorithm would have a drastic impact on the web almost overnight. The current web standards aren’t slow, it’s the implementations of those standards that are the problem.

Of course, pushing AMP instead of penalising slower sites makes absolute commercial sense for Google. AMP pages, by design, have a similar look and feel. This allows Google to provide a consistent ‘on-brand’ experience when browsing the internet on mobile.

That is why the AMP concept is in conflict with the core principles of the open web. We should be helping developers to create faster mobile experiences using the standards that we already have, not supporting a new version of the web that is ultimately controlled by a commercial organisation.