Google Browser

It seems that all rumors concerning Google eventually come to fruition, this time the long discussed browser has been announced. I’m pretty ambivalent about this one.

Just as Firefox, in certain places, is about to pass the combined numbers of all IE versions, I’m not sure I want to see another one in the mix although of course in terms of developer support vs effort it depends on standards support on their side. Safari did’t add that much effort when it came out because it features superb standards support.

However (I got to the Google blog from here through Digg but haven’t read anything else so I might have missed it) their announcement on the blog doesn’t mention web standards. Since they are partially based on Webkit support should be excellent but no mention of standards on a tech blog is not a good sign.

A new Javascript engine could be a good idea in terms of performance but what kind of work and bugs will it require for custom code and for libraries?

The “Omnibox” is the Google search box times 10, although the browser is open sourced, it’s not a move to fight Microsoft—they already did that by paying for some Mozilla developers—it’s a ploy to drive evermore trafic to their properties and this is dangerous. Google is already massively powerful and if people switch to Chrome in droves it’s not good for competition and gives yet more power to the all seeing and imperfect algorithm.

You will now be able to “pop open” a web app in a separate browser window with no address bar. One of the articles linked mentions making phishing attacks easier by removing the thought of addresses from peoples’ minds but it’s also one more step to the Google desktop / OS, I don’t know if there will be a full screen mode but it’s easy to imagine there being one. In which case users could potentially maximize Chrome, use Google apps and never see the operating system again. I couldn’t care less if Microsoft looses out but in such a scenario we are faced with a domination by a company driven by advertising and presenting revenu generating results, not just by a company out to sell more OSes and applications. It’s as big a potential unwanted “filter” between people and the whole of the internet as packet filtering by ISPs is. Net Neutrality is a big issue, Search Neutrality should be too and a Google browser doesn’t help that.

Think I’m exagerating by already talking about domination? I might very well be (and I hope so) but Chrome will no doubt bring more trafic to Google through search and apps (and then ads), do you have any doubt that they will quickly be offering deals to Dell, HP and others to make Chrome the default browser on new PCs against a cut of advertising revenu from those systems? Motivation like that can bring about adoption a lot quicker than better security, tabs and the average guy having to download and install which still helped Firefox gain a lot of traction relatively quickly.

The everpresent Google and the way people ignore it’s ubiquity is damned anoying and dangerous. I keep hearing about “Apple fanboys” but virtually all big techblogs are Google fanboys and no one talks bout it. They are always waiting for stuff from Google with trepidation, assuming it will be better and great, promoting the web office, never mentioning or seemingly even considering what it means to push your whole business in the Google cloud where it’s sliced, diced and advertised. It took me long enough to get smart to what we are putting in the hands of Google (merci Karl) but it’s taking even longer for those guys to get with it and it’s not helping things.

[Update] This is somewhat contrary to what I was saying earlier but; Chrome hasn’t been released yet for Mac and it’s based on the Apple backed Webkit, any chance the OSX version will instead be the next Safari using similar functionality and NOT a Google Chrome for OSX? As in, Apple is working with Google?

[Update 2] For those who think I’m being paranoid about imagined Google scenarios, check out what’s been noticed in the terms of service.

[Update to Update 2] Corrected.

September 2nd, 2008