RelativeWave: Why did Google acquire it and what is the impact of it being free now?
Google continues its mission to seemingly consolidate all forms of digital technology with its recent acquisition of RelativeWave. RelativeWave is a design team that is best known for “an app that helps to create apps” known as Form.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of Form is that it allows for limited app functionality without actually having to learn how to write code. Everything within Form is based on visualization, meaning that people with no time to actually study the craft of app programming can create prototypes of apps.
Functionality on All Platforms
Form is one of the only apps of its kind to run on OS X as well as on iOS devices with parity on both systems. You will be able to create visuals that preview everything from text commands all the way to animation flows even on the mobile platform. This is one of the main reasons that Google chose Form over its competitors; many apps of this nature do not take full advantage of the abilities of the modern mobile OS system. With Google owning the Android system, this was a very important aspect that created the pathway for the acquisition.
If you design the prototype for your app in the OS X visual editor, the changes to the app are reflected in the iOS app instantaneously. There are very few apps with this kind of functionality.
The Price Drop
At the launch of the Form app, RelativeWave was charging US $150. In September 2014, they dropped the price to US $80. This was not because of a lack of sales; rather, they saw an opportunity for a larger audience with a lower price point.
When Google acquired the company, RelativeWave began giving away the Form app for free. Of course there was a large influx of cash from Google to RelativeWave, and the company is wisely using this new leverage in order to create a larger footprint in the marketplace. You can now find the Form app on the Mac App Store. RelativeWave has even promised to refund the money of people have purchased the application at one of the other price points mentioned above.
What RelativeWave Means to Google
The Form app is far from the end for the six person RelativeWave team. Google acquired the company partly because they saw the potential in the idea of visually based coding applications. Much like web design and audiovisual production techniques have all been broken down into bite-size steps that any amateur can follow, application development is the next product that will be so commercialized.
Although no one at Google or RelativeWave is talking about exactly why the acquisition took place, you can bet that this is part of the reason. RelativeWave has the ability to create visual modeling applications for virtually any purpose if the Form model takes off and integrates itself into the larger society. Bringing application development to the masses means further market dominance for Google in the overall market for technology. For a company that has very little need of more money, this is truly the only motivation that could prompt an acquisition like this.
The Impact of The Partnership between RelativeWave and Google
Looking over the history of Google acquisitions, one may note that they only tend to acquire companies that they believe can be market leaders. Of course the virtually unlimited funds that Google has to pump into a company that likes has something to do with its market leadership. However, it is definitely no good to pump money into a company that does not have the ability to top itself over and over again.
This likely means that RelativeWave will be developing products along the line of Form for years to come. The fact that they are being given away for free simply showcases that Google has a much more important motivation for information rather than profit.
The terms of service for most free Google products including Gmail and YouTube give Google the right to any information that is passed along those communication channels. In essence, Google now has the ability to “see into” the future of all applications. Ideally, there is nothing to keep Google from cannibalizing a great app idea that a novice stumbles upon while playing around with the free Form app or any app that RelativeWave develops in the future.
The Bottom Line
If Google dumbs down the process of creating an app so that the general public is dependent upon its products in order to create them, Google basically has ownership of all future applications to be developed. With the trend of all business towards mobile platforms and proprietary app development, this seems to be one of the smartest moves that Google has made in its storied history.