Turns out Google did give something away at I/O 2016, but it’s not what anyone expected

Turns out Google did give something away at I/O 2016, but it’s not what anyone expected

Google I/O is a lot of fun for developers, but let’s be honest: part of the reason many go is to get stuff. In years past, Google has gifted developers with computers, phones and wearables. This year, not so much.

The event wrapped up Friday, but a Saturday email from Google detailed its giveaway for I/O 2016. Instead of hardware, developers were gifted with $500 in Cloud Platform credit.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is the same engine many of its own products are built on, and gives developers closer ties to Google’s analytics and machine learning. For a developer, there’s not much GCP can’t do.

But it feels a bit like Google’s self-interests might be at play, too. GCP has some interesting machine learning tools available, and Google just announced its Assistant, which is powered by machine learning.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 8.40.59 AM

Pricing is a bit opaque, but scalable. In an example, Google claims GCP cloud storage is far cheaper than AWS, but maybe not worth switching. The $500 credit would give you three months free in its model, though.

It’s nice that developers walked away with something from I/O, especially after dealing with the heat on day one and long lines for sessions, but it’s definitely a weird move on Google’s part to give away GCP credit instead of hardware.

Considering we’re about to get Android apps on ‘high end’ Chromebooks, a Pixel 2 may have been a better choice for a giveaway. At least giving developers some reference hardware for desktop Android apps would encourage them to get excited about that initiative, even if they don’t have a say in whether their apps end up on Chrome OS.

Read next: Apple is behind Google when it comes to VR, but there could be a fix coming at WWDC

Here's some more distraction