Today’s modern websites are cluttered and slow to load into browser windows, regardless of how much bandwidth your internet connection has. Google has a plan to speed up websites and Apple has decided to help test the search engine giant’s new image compression format, known as WebP.
Most websites that display images these days use the ancient .GIF, .JPG, and more recent .PNG file formats. In an effort to speed up websites, Google developed WebP, an image compression format which shrinks image sizes even more than the current standards.
Improvements to aging web technologies is all well and good, but I smell a skunk in the works.
Ostensibly, Google wants to speed up the web because– and despite a continued increase in available bandwidth– websites can at times be excruciatingly slow to load into a browser window.
Here’s the funny thing about this. Google is at the head of the problem. Most websites do not load slowly because of images. WebP, if implemented on every browser all over the world, and embedded into images on every website everywhere, and done overnight, might reduce image bandwidth usage as much as 25-percent.
Images are not the problem. Google is the problem.
Google has saturated the web with advertising and user tracking mechanisms that clutter websites and suck up an enormous amount of bandwidth. Semi-kudos to Google for trying to do something better, but the attempt smacks of a self serving approach to survival rather than an altruistic attempt to improve the internet. All the ad clutter and tracking scripts that spawn ever more tracking scripts has a cost, and Google is partly responsible.
People are rebelling against both clutter and bandwidth waste by installing ad blockers which have a highly negative impact on Google’s primary revenue stream. Ads. The ad blockers block ads and tracking scripts which account for most of an average commercial website’s bandwidth, remove the visual clutter, and cut down on bandwidth usage, all of which speeds up a website’s load time.
As a test, use the free app Ghostery to check out your favorite websites to see just how much clutter exists behind the images. Then, check out what happens when website ad trackers are removed. Those are the culprits and Google is trying an end run around a problem for which it is mostly responsible
What part does Apple play in all this?
Safari is one of the world’s most popular browsers so Apple is testing WebP in test versions of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. That doesn’t mean WebP is a cinch to become a standard. Google has a long history of starting such projects and then leaving them on the company’s landfill of good intentions that were poorly implemented.
Don’t think that Google is implementing such technology for the benefit of mankind or for anyone who browses the web. Ad blockers hurt Google’s revenue stream so anything the company can do to speed up a website’s page load time is a benefit.