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Why did Google schedule only one keynote at I/O?

In a break from tradition, Google I/O will only feature a single three-hour keynote this year. What does this change mean? Join us for a look at some of the possibilities.
May 1, 2013
Google I/O

In the past, Google held two separate keynote events at Google I/O. For the day one keynote, Android was the primary focus. The day two keynote previously saw Chrome as its focus point. This year, Mountain View is changing things up, combining the two separate keynotes into one three-hour event.

Not surprisingly, this change has sparked a fair amount of gossip and speculation. We’ve taken a good look at the session schedule for Google I/O, as well as other gossip surrounding Google, Chrome and I/O in general. Putting on our thinking caps, we’ve come up with a few possibly ‘theories’ on what the combined keynote might indicate.

Theory 1: Chrome OS and Android integration

Andy Rubin is no longer at the helm of the Android development ship, and Sundar Pichai now manages both Android and Chrome. This leads to the obvious theory that Android and Chrome might be combining in some way.

Back in March, Google’s Eric Schmidt said a straight-up merger isn’t happening between the two products, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come together in other ways. In fact, Schmidt himself said that there could be more ‘commonality’ between the two.

While the idea of running full Android apps on Chrome OS comes to mind, there’s also the possibility of integrated services that make using the two platforms a more cohesive experience.

I don’t pretend to know the inner-workings of Google’s master plan or even what Google I/O has in store for us, but if it is about unification, it could likely center around services like Babel messaging and perhaps even a cloud gaming platform.

Theory 2: Google Gaming Platform in the works

Taking a look at the session schedule for Android, Chrome and the Google Cloud Platform, one subject seems to pops up more often than anything else: gaming.

For Android, gaming-related sessions include “New developments in Mobile Gaming”, “Practical Android Games Development”, and “Level up your Android Game”.

For Chrome we have “JAM with Chrome: How We Built a Massive Multiplayer Game Using Only Web Technology”. As for the Google Cloud platform, we see “Intense Gaming” and “Here Be BigQuery: Building Social gaming Infrastructure on the Google Cloud Platform”. If we are lucky, Google I/O’s gaming focus will also extend to Google Glass.

These separate gaming events might be just an all-around refocusing on games, or a sign that a unified cloud gaming platform is in the works. Again, I’m not a psychic nor a fortune teller.

Personally I’d love to see a Chrome-driven cloud gaming platform that works with Android devices, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and ChromeBooks.

google i/o live

Theory 3: Google I/O won’t see many major announcements

There are some pessimists out there that might be thinking the single keynote is a sign that Google’s I/O is nothing to be excited about this year.

Some evidence that we shouldn’t get our hopes up can be seen in the possible revelation that Android 4.3 Jelly Bean could be coming to I/O, not Key Lime Pie. Then there are the rumors suggesting the Motorola X Phone isn’t ready, and won’t be part of Google I/O. We also still don’t know if we will see any new Nexus devices for sure.

Here’s what I have to say to you negative-Nellys: Stop it, stop right now!

If you are a Google fan, you have probably come to realize that Google rarely disappoints. Like any company, they make mistakes, but even if they don’t unveil the X Phone or Key Lime Pie – there will be something big for us. Google knows how important this event is for Google fans and developers. Simple as that.

Theory 4: Google I/O’s single keynote could really mean nothing

Bottom-line, let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. I’m excited about Google I/O and the possibilities in store, as I’m sure you are. That makes it easy to let our imaginations run wild, into places both positive and negative.

Looking at the single keynote event with a level head, the answer for the change could be much less complicated than Android/Chrome integration, a unified gaming platform announcement, or Google I/O being a bust.

At Google I/O 2012, most of the good stuff was in the first keynote, which weighed in at 2 hours and 6 minutes. The second keynote took 1 hour and 19 minutes, and part of that time was dedicated to replaying Sergey Brin’s epic skydiving stunt from Day 1. Google could just realize that it is better to lump everything together into one stunning performance, instead of dragging it all out. This would also give Google more time to focus on sessions and less time worrying at the next day’s keynote.

Honestly, we can’t say for sure what Google I/O will bring, though it is admittedly fun to speculate. What do you think will be the big focus of Google I/O 2013? Are you excited yet?