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October 19, 2008

About Google Chrome

With the First Browser War almost forgotten (Microsoft/Internet Explorer beat Netscape) and the Second Browser War in midstream with Firefox and Safari eating up market share (and I grieve for plucky Opera, who was first to the scuffle but perhaps lost the marketing buzzwar), why would Google get into the Browser Business by developing Chrome, the newest browser on the block?

Google's business runs on browsers. The focus used to be on computers and operating systems - Wintel Pentium2 with Windows 98 and IE, for instance- but now the focus is on phones, palm pilots, blackberrys, mall kiosks, etc. The web is the new platform. This is the "ubiquitious web" (aka ubiweb, ubinet) - it's everywhere, it's embedded. So it makes sense for Google to ensure continual advancement of browsers by adding their own to the competition.

Why now? What browser do you think comes on Google's new Android handsets? This establishes Google's browser position in their new cellphone initiative.

Improving Google's environment. Chrome raises the bar for the other browser developers, especially in the way each tab is a separate process that can't crash the other tabs. Chrome's Javascript engine is lightning fast, and that's important since Javascript has come to life (again) with the new focus on AJAX-driven Web 2.0 websites. Google introduces a browser, competitors focus on improving their browsers, and Google wins.

Safeguarding Google's model. Google's business runs on advertising. Most of the current browsers have ad-blocker features, and that's not good if your business model is advertising. Now Google ensures that there's a very cool browser out there that won't block ads. Their challenge is to deliver a browser so nifty and fast that you'll live with the ads.

Attacking Microsoft's model. Microsoft's cashflow derives from (1) operating systems (and we just decided that OS's don't matter in the world of ubiweb) and (2) on Microsoft Office. Oh gosh, Google is offering web-based FREE alternatives to Word, Excel, Powerpoint - the key Microsoft cash cow. In fact, Google will store your documents in "the cloud", and probably back up your docs better than you will. Google's Chrome is built to ensure that Google Docs and Google Mail will work very well, and all of a sudden Google makes you wonder why you should give Microsoft any. money. at. all. Breathtaking.

Technically, Chrome is a great browser. It complies with W3C standards. Not a lot of distraction in the browser, so the websites beckon to the user. The Privacy Policy isn't as nice as you'd want - whatever you do on Google's browser becomes Google's property - but you're getting what you paid for. It's interesting that when you go into "stealth mode" (aka porn mode), your spouse can't see what you've done but Google sure tracks it.

My personal recommendation? Firefox first, Safari a close second. I tip to Firefox because of the AddOns and the notion that Firefox is Netscape's granddaughter; Safari on a PC just proves you bought the wrong computer, go get a Mac. Use Opera if you want, it's a great browser. Never, never use Internet Explorer. Leave Chrome alone because of the privacy issues, but be glad they're prompting the competition.

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