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Google Chrome

Posted on: September 2, 2008

I’m sitting here reading through the comic book (that would be marketing brochure) from Google outlining their new Web Browser project, called Google Chrome. Most of the news sites are abuzz already praising this yet to be released product, calling it “an innovative new open source web browser” that according to arstechnica.com will offer ‘extraordinary’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘revolutionary’ new features.

It could also be seen as another step in Googles ongoing attempt to monopolize the web, but that would be mixing technology and politics. Let’s do just that :).

As blogoscoped.com writes:

Google is playing this as nicely as possible by open-sourcing things, with perhaps part of the reason to try to defend against monopoly accusations – after all, Google already owns a lot of what’s happening inside the browser, and some may feel owning a browser too could be a little too much power for a single company (Google could, for instance, release browser features that benefit their sites more than most other sites… as can Microsoft with Internet Explorer).

Sure making it Open Source gives any technically highly adept individual the possibility to take it apart and modify it, but the fact that this opportunity will be used by a very small fraction of all the people browsing the web makes it a poor excuse to give up both the browsing experience and the content to the same company.

In fact this goes even further with the announcement of the phishing/malware protection features announced in the same comic (p.33). According to the brochure:

There’s a second list of malware websites. Websites where a ton of bad things might happen to your computer, just on arrival.

When we discover malicious content, we notify the owner of a website, who usually wasn’t intending to be malicious, and they can take this information and clean up their site.

In effect, Google will thus be policing the web on our behalf and notify owners of websites hosting malicious content, so that they can clean up their site. Now, from a practical perspective, this might seem like a nice idea, after all, Google is already watching just about every step you take on-line and all the content you might be accessing, they are most likely event telling you where to go based on your Google searches. But from a political/philosophical perspective the idea of Google playing big brother on-line is not so appealing.

Blogoscoped.com is right , Google already owns most of what’s happening inside the browser, including your email on Gmail and any file you created with Google Apps and saved in Google’s on-line storage. Owning your means of accessing the web, as well as policing its content would seem to spell a little to much power for one, any, single commercial entity…

As for ‘unprecedented’ and ‘revolutionary’, most of the usability features of Chrome has already been around (in some form or other) for some time. Mozilla has the Prism project, the Tab Page is already a part of Opera, and the Incognito privacy mode has been around in Safari for years and will be part of IE8.  As for the OmniBox (that would be the extended address bar) and its auto completion features, FireFox 3 is already doing some very nice and innovative work here as well…

On the other hand, the idea of handling each tab as a separate process is a very neat architectural idea that I am sure will have great impact on performance and stability, perhaps even on security, in a good sense that is. Also, I for one totally disagree with the people claiming that it would be best to have only one single browser, for standards and compatibility. There are many ways of browsing the web, and equally many ways of digesting and organizing online information. More browsers mean more options to choose from in terms of usability, UX and features.

In short, I’m not saying I hate Google or that bringing another browser to the market is such a bad thing. However, I do think it is important to remember that Google is Just Another Profit Oriented Company, that will do what it takes to increase market share and quell their competitors.

Clever slogans like Do No Evil and punch lines like ‘whithout competition we have stagnation’ (p.37) will not change this, though it might dupe some journalists and geeks into thinking the company really is just a big and Friendly Giant…

All in all, it’s just business as usual…

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10 Responses to "Google Chrome"

Yeah, google has really managed to firmly plant the image of a friendly guy just doing good things for ‘free’ out of the kindness of his heart. Quite well done actually. But you are of course spot on in your criticism.

Besides, I don’t really see what all the fuss is about; as you say the features its sporting aren’t that ground breaking. Now, I haven’t tested the browser itself but my opinion is that any browser that is standards compliant (according to w3c) is a welcome addition. Those that aren’t should however be challenged.

I’m not sure what is worse in regards to the big brother scenario; a politically governed agency monitoring your habits (FRA, NSA etc.) or a company doing it. At least with the company I can more easily comprehend the motive even if I don’t agree with it. I have a hard time imagining google sending a black unmarked van to somebody’s house just because of he or she didn’t click on the right adword.

Well, the motives might not have anything to do with adword clicking (well, in fact they probably do…), but google is indeed already sending unmarked, black vehicles, outfitted with cameras and recording equipment, right up your private runway/yard/porch…

http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article1870995.ece
http://mashable.com/2007/05/31/top-15-google-street-view-sightings/
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0404081google1.html

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/15/google_spycar_map/

Simply put, this is a company who’s only business plan is to monetize on the mapping and tracking of peoples behaviour. Their whole idea is to invade your privacy, package it, analyze it and pass/sell it on for commercial purposes…

I’m not saying that they’re evil, and they do provide a lot of very nice services, but make no mistake about their business objectives…

In fact, let me say it twice because I think it’s important.

I’m not critizing Google, but I am tired of all the fan boys/girls with stardust in their eyes, who seem to think that Google is the Second Coming…

Google, it appears, is to be exempt from the kind of scrutinizing that most other tech-companies/organizations/groups face, and that can never, under any cirumstances, be good…

Google is Just Another Company….

I’m not disagreeing with you; it is a valid critique.

By the way, I like what you’ve done with this place… it’s a nice looking theme :)

Thank you :) Bright and Shiny :)

Looking at the photographing that is done for google maps and other similar services, I would like to argue that it is more constructive to discuss the societal acceptance and rapid proliferation of this phenomenon.

This was heralded quite some time ago, by the peculiar flip that occurred when the stories from people’s private lives were turned from highly restricted to completely public. This happened first with the family photo album, which went from being shown only to potential new family members to being flaunted on the infamously designed family web sites of old. It then escalated with the blogosphere, where the hitherto incredibly secret diary was suddenly made visible to all.

One can look upon this as being a technological evolution, but more than that it’s a paradigm shift (oh yes I went down that road :-) in our definition of privacy.

Google Maps is a symptom of this shift, not a cause. The question becomes then if we are ok with this new paradigm, and if we aren’t, do we have solid ground for argument that we should revert?

Hmm I remember Kosta talking about this but he was using the example of the Home Video going online… It’s a very interesting discussion indeed, though perhaps not related to the glorification of Google, the company and its business practices.

hmmm

Or maybe it is, at least I would like to raise the following question as well; couldn’t Google’s business of selling the invasion of our privacy as a necessary and convenient service be seen as One of the causes of the aforementioned paradigm shift?

Also, the symptoms you mention above could perhaps be seen as ‘proof’ of the average person’s exhibitionism and need to be ‘seen, heard and recognized’? Simply enabled by technology?

ah yes I heard about this. actually the idea of anchoring barges and using waves for energy is not such a new one either. I recall an article in wired from about a year ago, where they talked about how in the -70’s researchers where designing offshore nuclear/wave energy plants that would operate pretty much the same way :) … or maybe I’m stretching it… anyways…

I think the key here is, ‘reside their operations outside the jurisdiction of governments.’. You be the judge…

Google, shooting up satellites, colonizing the ocean… and you said the Microsoft monopoly was scary? ;)

I agree, the legal ramifications of this scheme are central, and I dare say the main reason for Google to consider this.

All monopolies are scary, it doesn’t matter if it is google or microsoft. My very personal and probably provocative opinion is that at least google provide me with something I enjoy using, whereas Microsoft does not. I’m not trying to bait you here however. We seem to agree on what the fundamental flaw is here.

The question is, do we start looking for the solution to the google problem at a regulatory level or at the consumer level?

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