Google I/O: Weird Name, Big Deal

By Cameron Scott 

Photo: Amit Fulay

Google’s kicks off its three-day I/O conference today, drumming up lots of chatter among techies but leaving at least some casual observers wondering what the heck I/O is.

The I/O conference is Google’s major stage on which to make an annual pitch to third-party developers. (The name refers to input-output, which is essentially human-computer interaction.) Because Google differentiates itself from its main competitor Apple through its embrace of open platforms, the conference is immensely important for the company.

Some 6,000 developers will converge on San Francisco’s convention center to listen to Google’s pitch this year, paying $900 a head for the privilege.

Both Google and its developers have a lot at stake. Mobile apps, even with their generally small sticker price, are big business.

Google Play generated $400 million revenue in 2012, according to the market research firm Canalys. Play now drives more downloads than any other app store.

The conference consists of some several hundred 45-minute sessions with staff and executives as well as “extension” events held around the world.

Android will have most time devoted to it, but the company’s desktop OS, Chrome, will also get a lot of attention. Google+, YouTube, cloud storage and apps and Google Maps are all on the agenda as well.