Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Since I’m always behind the curve when it comes to writing about new stuff, I guess I should mention—a day or two after everyone else has—that Google has introduced a new open-source web browser, which they call Chrome.

Now, you might ask yourself: Why has Google built its own web browser? Isn’t there already an open-source web browser, called Firefox, which by most accounts is pretty darned good? And if you want to do something interesting with the browser, couldn’t you do it by creating a Firefox plugin? (e.g. Ubiquity.) And Google expected that response, and put up a page saying why they did it.

But the thing is… I still don’t get it. I mean, I read the page, but it didn’t really answer the question, in my mind: Why did Google feel that they need their own browser? Why couldn’t they build on something like Firefox? I went through the little demo videos on their features page, and although it seems like a great browser, it also seems like it’s just a series of incremental improvements over Firefox or Internet Explorer 7. Not something revolutionary.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely not saying that I think this is a dumb idea. Most of the folks over at Google are a lot smarter than I am, and I’m betting they had a good reason for doing this. And I’m also thinking back to when Firefox first introduced tabbed browsing, and how I didn’t think it was such a big deal, because that was only an “incremental improvement” over having multiple browser windows open. (“You’re just trading multiple buttons in your Taskbar for multiple tabs in your browser,” I thought, “What’s the big deal?”) But now I can’t imagine not having tabs in a browser.

In any event, I’m downloading Chrome, and will give it a try. (I’ve written too many love letters on this blog to other Google products not to give it a try!) I’m prepared to be blown away, but expecting to find “just another browser”, maybe slightly better than Firefox. Time will tell.