Google I/O is generally a huge event and a great many people want to go every year, though only a limited number get to. Even those who may not be developers or members of the media may have their reasons for wanting to be in on the action. One of those reasons is freebies. Google has been known to hand out everything from computers to phones and collectibles at I/O each year, giving the festival mass appeal and normally scoring developers some high-end and unique gear that sometimes out-priced their tickets. This year, however, was different; nobody received a Pixel C, or a Chromebook, or a Nexus; instead, developers were given $500 worth of credit for Google Cloud Platform, Google's service that allows developers to take advantage of Google's insanely huge and powerful computing framework.
As hardware in the mobile industry plateaus and even the most basic graphics cards for computers become capable of decent gaming and other intensive tasks, the entire tech sphere is experiencing a shift. The open-source world is becoming more and more mainstream, and everybody is practicing developer advocacy. From Epic Games offering a wealth of tutorials with Unreal Engine 4 to encourage new developers to Samsung offering their Made For Samsung developer advocacy platform, with the potential to turn a hobbyist into the next Dong Nguyen, developer advocacy is just about everywhere, and for good reason. Platforms need developers these days; the merit of a software platform or operating system, with most of them out there having most of the essential features, stands on the strength of its software.
Google handing out a huge amount of Cloud Platform credit to every developer that showed up at this year's I/O is just another in a long line of their own developer advocacy moves, albeit one of the bigger ones they've made so far. By allowing nascent developers to access Google's own homebrewed framework, Google is ensuring that developers have access to the best tools possible to create the best software possible. As a fringe benefit, developers who use the platform to build or maintain something and make a ton of money off of it are fairly likely to continue paying to use the platform; this could mean that Google's IaaS woes could be solved not by huge deals with big corporations, but through private-sector deals and even individual users. Taken in the long run, this strategy could be good not only for Google, but for software development as an industry.