OK, this maybe something of a cheat, but I have a good excuse. I had fully intended to download Google’s new browser Chrome yesterday, test it out and write up my thoughts, but with that hurricane looking like it was heading directly for my house, I had more pressing matters.
Now Chrome has been available for almost a complete day, the Twitterverse, the Blogosphere and maybe even some people in the real world, have had a chance to chime in with their thoughts. Which leaves me wondering what I can really add to the conversation with just a brief test time.
So, not wishing to seem redundant, I thought a round-up of reactions might actually prove more useful.
Wired pretty much has the definitive article about how Chrome came in to being, Inside Chrome: The Secret Project to Crush IE and Remake the Web. Highly-respected tech journalist Steven Levy gives a birds-eye view of the whole project, from its beginning to the actual release. Includes some interesting stuff – would you believe that Google actually, um, ‘fibbed’ about building their own browser?
“After a 2004 New York Times article quoted “a person who has detailed knowledge of the company’s business” saying a browser was in the works, Schmidt had to publicly deny it.”
How it is Different
“All of us at Google spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends — all using a browser. Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there”
I Feel the Need – the Need for Speed!
You bank online. You check your email on line. You work, live and play online. So speed is a bigger and bigger issue. Chrome is certainly a step up, at least according to Jof Arnold:
Many others are saying the same thing. Techcrunch found that,
“After just ten minutes of jumping from site to site, I was amazed by how quickly I was able to get around. And unlike some browsers (I won’t mention any names), opening a slew of tabs doesn’t matter — it’s just as fast with or without tabs.”
Hicks Design call it “fast and nimble. In a Camino way”, Eamon Costello says it’s “seriously fast” and, at the time of writing, there are about 5 tweets a minute with the search string, “Chrome is fast”!
So, let’s assume it’s new and it’s fast – what does this mean?
It’s Google vs Microsoft
Chrome is obviously another shot at Microsoft. Which is why Google waited until they were dominant enough to really challenge in the browser wars. Clinton Skakun is rooting for an IE-Killer:
“Hopefully this browser reaches the eyes of enough IE6 and 7 users. If it kills IE it was all worth it!:D When it’s all said and done, we might just have a Internet Explorer Killer on our hands:) If it doesn’t kill IE, maybe it will cause a slight shrink their user base.”
But Hank Williams isn’t so upbeat:
“Microsoft has been fighting the browser wars with spitballs and plastic knives and they are still beating Firefox handily. So Chrome, from a business perspective, for the foreseeable future, is totally irrelevant.”
“Google’s Chrome browser…takes dead aim at Windows 7 and Microsoft Office, and attempts to make both irrelevant. Google’s long-term goal is clear: Dominate the enterprise and small business market in the same way it now dominates Internet search.”
Actually, it’s Google vs Mozilla
There is already one great open source browser available, and it claims around 20% of the market share. Mozilla has also just renewed its deal with Google – so why would Google want another competitor in the mix? Joe Wilcox has a suggestion:
“Google wants to keep that money it gives Mozilla and other browser developers…Chrome will compete with Firefox and other Google search-supported browsers. Oh, yeah, if that’s you, Google is doing evil. If you’re Mozilla and dependent on Google paid search revenue, your browser’s future is perilous. How ironic if Google does to Firefox what Microsoft couldn’t: Kill the browser.”
What Do I Think?
I’ve been playing around with it for the last day or so (I’m writing this post using Chrome right now), and it’s, sort of, well, underwhelming. Considering it has 3% of the market share in under 24 hours I expected something more. Although I’m not sure what.
Maybe I need to get used to it a little more. It took me a while to feel fully comfortable with GMail when I first began using that, and now it’s all I use. It’s certainly fast, no doubt, and it has the Google-feel to it that Docs and so on have too, but switching browsers is a pain, and I’d need a strong incentive to do that. I don’t currently think Chrome is it.
I also have a few concerns about monopoly and privacy. Do we really want Google to dominate in another field like it does in search? They have made the software Open Source, so perhaps developers can port some of the better parts over to the Mozilla project, which would be good for everyone. Right now, however, I’m not going to be switching from Firefox.
Have you tried it out yet? What do you think?
Looks like I was right to have some fears about privacy – Jacob Morgan has the goods…