Robert O’Callahan makes the case for not using Google’s Chrome browser in Choose Firefox Now, Or Later You Won’t 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 warns there is potential for lock-in. We already see 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. That’s over stated. Apple wants to sell more hardware. Microsoft wants to dominate software and cloud computing.
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.
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 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.