- Posted: September 02, 2008
Yesterday, Google announced it was releasing its own open-source web browser to compete with Internet Explorer and Microsoft, called Google Chrome. The big links include:
- The main Google Chrome web page (link not working as of this writing)
- A comic book describing what Google is doing with this new browser
- Screenshots of what Chrome will look like.
My initial reaction? Why the heck would Google want to release a web browser? If they want to support an open source web browser, why not look at Firefox?
Now that I've thought on this a little longer, and seen the screenshots, and waded through the never-ending comic book, here's a few thoughts.
Google has put out a ton of web applications. Why not write a browser that now integrates with them perfectly? Think about Microsoft writing the operating system, then writing Office that perfectly integrated there. So if you're a Google maniac, and you love Gmail and the calendar and their other widgets, then this Google browser may be a beautiful thing.
It's open source, so in theory, it's all open for everyone to see, so they can write web apps that perfectly integrate with the Google browser as well. Again, pushes adoption.
These are things that Firefox doesn't do, so I can now understand why.
But. But. But.
Jen's Rant #972426 about tech companies applies here. Google is getting huge press for this move right now. Makes perfect sense, no? Anything Google does in the tech world is big news. Google is taking on Microsoft -- again, that's always a big story. Companies kill for this kind of press coverage on a new product, so Google should be taking advantage of it.
But Google is doing a hideous job about WHY mere mortals should give up IE and adopt Google Chrome. HIDEOUS. (Just like Firefox does a hideous job about why people should use it instead of IE.)
IE comes on my computer and it just works. I don't have to go anywhere to download anything, I don't have to figure anything out, configure anything, etc. It Just Works.
With Firefox, I have to find the Firefox site, download something, install it, and maybe configure it too. For we geeks, that's not a huge hurdle -- but for my mom, and other non-techies out there, it's more than they want to deal with.
So the first barrier to adoption of Firefox and Chrome (and other non-IE browsers, in PC-land) is getting people to download it. Sure it's "More Secure" than IE. Which doesn't mean much to non-techies. After all, they have their anti-virus software installed, and Windows Firewall is on, so what more do they need?
If Google wants adoption of this new browser, they need to make a super compelling case to the non-techies about why this is the best thing since sliced bread. Don't give us the geek details that go on for pages and pages with this silly comic book. Give me something I can understand -- Chrome is better than IE because (insert real, tangible benefit here). Stuff like the calendar or Gmail integration might be good arguments.
And a COMIC BOOK. Yowie. Target audience for comic books? Generally male, generally young (18-24). What a turnoff for someone like me, who is not in that demographic. I really did not want to flip through 25 individual pages trying to get to the meat of what was going on. I did not find it amusing in the slightest. I found it incredibly self-centered on the part of the Google team. The amusing caricatures were amusing to those on the Chrome team and their friends and families. To people like me who don't know them, they're not amusing -- they are wasting my time while I flip through twenty five pages of drawings trying to get a point about what they're doing.
Yes, no respect for the user experience at all. Fine if you want to do a comic book, but could you please put out some meat in a regular old press release for the rest of us who don't care?
And can you distill the top 5 reasons that I should use Google Chrome instead of any other browser on the planet?
Because I'm a diehard Firefox gal, and I don't see myself adopting any new browser in the future unless it comes with a bigger value proposition than the web developer toolbar, measuring tools eyedroppers, a fabulous AdBlock package, and many other widgets I use every day.