Firefox now or no choice later

Robert O’Callahan makes the case for not using Google’s Chrome browser in Choose Firefox Now, Or Later You Wont Get A Choice.

His argument is simple. He says:

Google is bent on establishing platform domination unlike anything we’ve ever seen, even from late-1990s Microsoft. Google controls Android, which is winning; Chrome, which is winning; and key Web properties in Search, Youtube, Gmail and Docs, which are all winning.

O’Callahan says there’s huge potential for lock-in and we’re already seeing signs of that with Google Docs. He warns Google is on track to dominate the internet and by extension, the world.

He also points out that Apple and Microsoft browsers are not true alternatives as the two companies are both chasing the same goal as Google.

O’Callahan, a New Zealander, is hardly a disinterested observer, he is part of the Mozilla team behind Firefox. He jokingly says Mozilla is the least likely of the four mentioned to establish world domination.

Let’s put Apple and Microsoft to one side — it’s debatable these companies seek to dominate online in the way Google does.

O’Callahan’s point about Google shutting down choice is valid. We’ve seen Google act high-handedly with Reader, the RSS feed software. The company entered a crowded space, dominated the market, then shut down a popular service after launching its proprietary Google+ service to occupy a closely related niche.

And the picture at the top of this story — it comes from Google’s Chrome download page — hints at the idea of domination.

Chrome remains a marginally better browser than Firefox. I find it faster — although not so much faster that it makes a meaningful difference. But the features that make it more useful than Firefox are largely features that are worrying from the Google world domination point of view. Being able to sync Chrome settings across devices and better integrated search are clearly steps on the path to lock-in.

6 thoughts on “Firefox now or no choice later

  1. I am definitely aware of this, and have tried to stay away from Chrome as much as a web developer can. What they are doing with ChromeOS and their APIs can certainly be seen as similar to Microsoft and ActiveX of yore – develop solely for us or die.

    I don’t think they are truly malicious in these strategies (certainly just because they have their own APIs doesn’t mean they want to force it on developers – they have an excuse for these in having their own OS), but there is a line they always love to tread of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. They’re doing the exact same thing with Android right now (tightening it down and making it open source pretty much only in name). I don’t care if it’s the right reasons, though. You should always do the right thing.

    Firefox is one of my main browsers. Opera is still my favourite, even though it isn’t open source, and probably has the same issues as using Chrome.

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    • O’Callahan’s post is certainly a wake up call. I stopped using Firefox some time ago and switched to Chrome — mainly because of the syncing between devices. Earlier today I installed Firefox and am giving it another try. Let’s see how that goes…

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      • Firefox does the syncing now too. In fact it has done it for a while but in a more clunky (but more privacy-minded) way. Now it is more like Chrome in that you just log in to your account.

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  2. I’m part of a very small minority of people who use the Opera web browser. I love it. I’ve never liked Chrome much and seem to have problems with it all the time. Firefox is my second choice after Opera.

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