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September 02, 2008

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Adam

It's interesting and exciting to watch the introduction of a new web browser into the open market. However we should all remember that this isn't the first browser to attempt to compete with Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox (FF). Flock, Opera and Safari have all tried to grab a chuck of the advertising/search revenue market generated by controlling the web browsing experience by adding a touch of the Web 2.0 (3.0?) experience. Not every one of Google's ventures has turned into an overnight success (Orkut, Gtalk) or left the confines of the Beta stamp (Gmail). The key to Chrome's success is develop a cult following full of Google fanatics... just like Firefox is filled with Mozilla fanatics (guilty). The first step will require heavy courting of the wide range of FF plug-in developers in order to bring the attractive FF nuances to Chrome's allegedly stable plug-in platform. Also, they'll need to prove to the public that cloud computing, to which Chrome caters to, is a stable viability... something that Google and Microsoft have yet to achieve. Overall, I look forward to looking at Chrome's progression as well as it's affect on the coming versions of IE and FF.

Bill

You're right Adam, Google has missed on a few. With a "Launch early/Launch often" strategy that's an inevitable part of the bargain.

Your Gmail comparison is a good one. While I think it is superior to Hotmail or Yahoo, Gmail has never grabbed the share that it deserves, mostly because the other two were so entrenched by the time Gmail was introduced. Agreed, this is similar to the browser situation today, although the costs of switching are quite a bit less than for email.

Yep, the browser market is a tough one. No surprise to me that Apple's Safari didn't catch hold. I've never used Flock or Opera, but there doesn't seem to be much traction there. I expect Chrome will do quite a bit better, though, partly because people just like Google. (And maybe in part for the same reason that many switched to Firefox--because it wasn't owned by Microsoft!)

In any event, it will be fun to see what happens. I'm betting on Google. And regardless, I remain absolutely wowed by what this company has done, and how it has done it.
Bill

Zach

Thanks for the heads-up. I just downloaded chrome and am excited to take it for a spin. So far I'm impressed with the thoughtful features (like including web search in the address box)....and it is fast. It will be interesting to see how they seemlessly link this with all of their other services.

Adam

Looks like there are some issues with the Chrome beta. It has the same 'carpet bomb' bug that Safari for Windows had. Additionally, there's some fishiness in the EULA... which Google has promised to correct in the future. Tread cautiously.

Adam Taft

This thread has some good points, and some really bad ones. I'm drawn like a moth to fire...

Adam wrote (comment 1):
"The first step will require heavy courting of the wide range of FF plug-in developers"

That's exactly correct. Chrome will only be really interesting when a few plugins are available for it. Specifically, plugins which remove the "annoyances" of web browsing (Ads, Javascript, Flash, Java). Few other FF plugins have as much mass appeal like these do.

Google has a conflict of interest with regards to blocking ads. So, they won't (I'm guessing) build their own ad blocker. But, they also know that plugin development is essential. Look for a plugin developer community to emerge quickly.

Adam wrote:
"left the confines of the Beta stamp (Gmail)"

Google's "Beta" program has as much to do with marketing as it does to do with the software development line. Gmail, for example, is more stable, efficient and useful than any other mail system. It has millions of users and handles complex mail protocols (like IMAP) which other web based mail providers won't touch.

Gmail is in "beta" only because Google envisions so many additional features being added in the future. They come up with a roadmap of features and say that they're in beta until x number of features are implemented. This has nothing to do with the stability or usefulness of the existing platform, which is of course contrary to most beta software.

Adam wrote:
"They'll need to prove to the public that cloud computing, to which Chrome caters to, is a stable viability."

There's nothing that needs to be proved here. The writing is already on the wall. Google is simply facilitating the direction. Chrome's adoption will only grow stronger as more developers start to utilize and rely on the in-the-box features of Chrome.

Really, the only "new" feature coming in default to Chrome is Google Gears (a local storage facility). Gears generally requires a separate download. All the other "features" of Chrome are standard with all browsers (namely Javascript). So, it's not like Chrome's only hope for success is somehow convincing the public on cloud computing.

By the way, "Cloud Computing" is one of those buzzwords that doesn't have any meaning anymore due to the abuse of the term. Cloud Computing really has nothing to do with the client.

Adam wrote:
"Web 2.0 (3.0?) experience"

Wow, talk about buzz words! Web 3.0?? If anyone can define "Web 2.0", I'd give them a hundred dollars.

Bill wrote (comment 2):
"Gmail has never grabbed the share that it deserves"

I'm guessing Google doesn't see Gmail as such a failure. ;) Ultimately I don't think they care too much about number of users of Gmail (for now), when they know taking the high road will win over time. It's only a matter of time (and increase of spam) that will drive people to Gmail.

Don't underestimate how businesses are starting to utilize Gmail as a delivery backend for their domain. Gmail's uptime and spam filters are absolutely the best. The adoption rate of Gmail doesn't necessarily have to come from conversions at Yahoo or Hotmail.

Bill wrote:
"No surprise to me that Apple's Safari didn't catch hold. I've never used Flock or Opera, but there doesn't seem to be much traction there"

Safari didn't catch hold? Well, I guess 3-4% market share doesn't mean much in the big picture, but "catching hold" has more to do with year-over-year growth, wouldn't you say? I would guess (and I'm sure could find the statistics to support) that Webkit, Gecko, and Presto (the engines for Safari/Chrome, Firefox, and Opera respectively) have grown exponentially the last few years. It's not like overnight Internet Explorer is going to disappear.

Adam wrote (comment 4):
"It has the same 'carpet bomb' bug"

This is NOT a bug. It's a bad user interface decision. And, I'm guessing it will be fixed before long.

Adam wrote:
"there's some fishiness in the EULA."

Whoops, Google copied and pasted their standard EULA. So what. Google can have my blog ramblings (they already index them).

Adam wrote:
"Tread cautiously."

I tend to embrace beta software, because I get paid for knowing about technology coming down the pike. But yes, this is probably good advice for most users (to avoid Beta software (unless it's Gmail, which is really not Beta)).

Adam

Adam, I felt your comments were very insightful and well thought out. I hope that I don't come across as too argumentative, but I always love a good tech discussion. With that in light, here are a few things I'd like to add. Thanks again for the great discussion!

Adam T wrote (comment 5):
"Gmail is in 'beta' only because Google envisions so many additional features being added in the future. They come up with a roadmap of features and say that they're in beta until x number of features are implemented. This has nothing to do with the stability or usefulness of the existing platform, which is of course contrary to most beta software."

I love Gmail. It's a great system and provides many features which the other leading free e-mail providers charge for. I also enjoy the look and feel as though Google knew that functionality was the only thing that users cared about when it came to e-mail. My deepest concern is Google push to market the Google Apps (which Gmail is a part of) as a viable corporate solution.

The Beta status in over the years has been an indication that a company has put out a product they feel is ready for public consumption, yet may have bugs that can only be found by a much wider group of testers. Use it, but understand if there are bugs, you really can't gripe because it's a beta. Yes, Google may have a different look on this, but once again, in the IT world, a Beta isn't something you roll out onto the corporate network. Google does a great job of testing software before pushing it to the public, but they aren't perfect and Gmail has broken on occasion. Bugs introduced in a new release can affect the GUI and/or the back end rendering e-mail inaccessible for hours. Some companies can deal with this, others cannot.

Adam T wrote (comment 5):
"By the way, 'Cloud Computing' is one of those buzzwords that doesn't have any meaning anymore due to the abuse of the term. Cloud Computing really has nothing to do with the client."

I think Cloud Computing is more than a buzzword, unlike Web 3.0 which was meant to more of a humorous comment. The Internet has always been diagrammed as a Cloud. In any event, moving data reliance to the great 'out there' is still too new to fully embrace. One of Chrome's objectives was to make Web Apps faster and more reliable. Yes, Google Gears is a way to alleviate some of the headaches which are caused by a loss of Internet connectivity or if the service provider temporarily mis-places your data. However, putting data into the cloud gives more people access to personal and private documents. A bug, a hacker or even a curious DB could gain access to sensitive information. It is the future but, it still needs lots of work, and hence, a ton of convincing to get the public on board.

Adam T wrote (comment 5):
'Wow, talk about buzz words! Web 3.0?? If anyone can define "Web 2.0", I'd give them a hundred dollars.'

'http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0', a contribution to the charity of your choice will suffice.

Adam T wrote (comment 5):
"This is NOT a bug. It's a bad user interface decision. And, I'm guessing it will be fixed before long."

In my mind, anything that can inconvenience the user, or confuse them into running malicious software is a bug. Difference of opinion I guess.

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  • Bill Aho is a partner with SagePoint Consulting, which uses proprietary innovation processes to create products, services and concepts for businesses. SagePoint serves as an ongoing revenue-producing engine for companies, generating a steady stream of market-driven innovations that are financially attractive, operationally sound and built on strategic growth platforms.

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