Why not PHP for Google’s App Engine?

TechCrunch is announcing Google’s new “App Engine” service being launched this evening.  The basic service is a full app stack hosted and managed by Google, providing a web framework (maybe I’m misreading this?) and the Google ‘big table’ database service.  The web stack is Python, but there’s no word I’m seeing on whether it’s plain Python or if it’s based on an existing Python framework (like Zope or Django or something).  This is seen as a strike against Amazon’s hosted services (EC2, SimpleDB and others) which may make it more attractive for developers to write hosted apps using a ‘single stack’ approach rather than the ‘pick and choose’ method of integrating Amazon services in to other systems as needed.

My question is “why was Python was chosen instead of PHP?”  Yes Guido works at Google, which was probably a big factor.  However, from an adoption standpoint, there are still more PHP developers out there.  There’s likely an argument to be made for ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’, and perhaps Python is easier to manage in virtual hosted environments (PHP’s under FastCGI might be the best choice, but isn’t as fast as mod_php).

These are just some initial thoughts.  It’ll be interesting to see if this approach sparks some competing services from other companies (Yahoo!?  IBM?).  I could see IBM offering hosted services for its Project Zero project, though I have no clue whether they’d actually do it or not.

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