by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 24th 2008 5:42pm
Tue, Sep 16th 2008 2:19am
from the not-so-fast dept
Seth Godin thinks Firefox is missing the point by launching new features in response to Google Chrome. He says the problem now is that "when your friends switch to Firefox, your life doesn't get better." Firefox needs to provide people with an incentive to spread it, so that the more people use it, the better it gets for users (think of a social networking site -- you have a better experience if more of your friends join). He suggests new communication and collaboration features that only work if you have Firefox.
I think he's missing the point.
He ignores the Firefox community. The life of a Firefox user does improve as the user base grows. A more vibrant community means better add-ons, bug fixes, security patches, phishing reports, translations/dictionaries, etc. -- all members benefit. Mozilla is already providing the sort of incentive he describes. Sure, there may be ways to improve, but I don't think they're missing the point.
Plus, "only for Firefox users" isn't the Mozilla approach. Mozilla wants to improve the web for everyone -- not just Firefox users. Mozilla thinks your browser should be like your phone or your car; it shouldn't matter if your friends or co-workers are using the same product. You don't need to consider which phone carrier your friend uses before making a call, or which car your co-worker has before providing directions; you shouldn't have to think about what browser someone uses before communicating with them online. People don't need special browser-specific features in order to communicate browser-to-browser, that's what web services (or add-ons) are for. Those kinds of features would make life on the web more difficult for everyone if they were Firefox specific, and if they weren't, Google could just implement them in Chrome.
The community is one thing Firefox has that Chrome can't copy overnight.
If you read some responses to Chrome from people at Mozilla, it doesn't seem like they're missing the point. Competition in the browser market is validation of Mozilla's mission for Firefox, and Mozilla plans to compete by continuing to innovate and to involve the community. Seth Godin makes a great observation about giving people an incentive to spread your product -- "people will recommend something if adoption improves their lives" -- but he doesn't mention the ways in which Mozilla has already taken that to heart. How do you think Firefox became popular in the first place?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 10th 2008 3:44pm
from the seems-hard-to-believe dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 2nd 2008 6:49am
from the browser-wars-get-a-new-entrant dept
Rather than being built on Mozilla, as many expected, it's been built on top of WebKit, which is also the core of Apple's Safari browser -- but which Google was also using for its own mobile browser. In the end, this isn't all that surprising. While many will interpret it as Google trying to take on Microsoft in the browser market, in reality, this is probably a lot more about Google trying to help everyone move beyond the operating system market. As we first suggested four years ago when rumors of a Google browser first came around, Google knows that the way to beat Microsoft is to become the operating system for the internet, and you do that by relegating the actual OS obsolete. And, these days, the path to doing that is through the browser.
So, yes, this is a shot at Microsoft -- but not at Internet Exporer. It's a shot at Windows.
That doesn't mean Google Chrome will be successful, but a quick look at the features itself show that the features it highlights (being able to run apps separately, better memory management, etc.) are the sorts of things that allow people to make browser-based apps much more useful, rather than feeling the need to rely on client-side applications. People have predicted for years that we're getting closer to a world where all computing can be done over the network, and it looks like Google is trying to push that process right along.