Chrome Web Store… Evil?

Google’s got something new planned… it’s the Chrome Web Store! There’s a nice description at Mashable with a well-produced video. (Google seems to be working hard at creating well-produced videos, filled with people you really want to trust… are they actors? Real Google employees? Real Actors Google has hired as employees?)


So this new Chrome Web Store, or “App Store” as it were, seems to be a way for people to “sell” applications to Chrome users. To be fair, you can also make your app available for free. As for the paid part, well gosh, they aren’t that evil because they take a smaller cut than Apple does with their app store. Make no mistake, Apple’s App Store is evil, so even if you’re less evil than the guy who is more evil… you’re still evil!

Apple’s App Store is evil. I won’t deny that… Steve basically says that if you don’t like it, you can build your app as a web site, and use Mobile Safari to access it on your iPhone. That idea may be less evil than the Chrome Web Store, because while Apple suggests you do this, it doesn’t do anything to get into the revenue stream of it, and leave that’s totally up to you to figure out. I also don’t think they suggest you make it work only in Mobile Safari…

So here are some questions about the Chrome Web Store…

  • Is it based on open standards?
  • Will it work in all browsers, not just Google Chrome?
  • Can anyone run a competitor to the Chrome Web Store?
  • Does it help keep the web free?
  • Does it help keep the web open?

There is a battle going on… it’s for control of the web. I’m on the side of keeping the web free and open. I can see this fracturing the web, and I don’t like it.

It looks like the Chrome Web Store will also allow for the selling of browser extensions for Chrome. An interesting idea. While Mozilla popularized the idea of Browser extensions, Google wants to come along an monetize it. But don’t worry, they’ll only take a small cut…

Ultimately this makes sense for Google and their Chrome OS, which means to take over everything, because all you’ll need is The (Google) Cloud™ and the Chrome Web Store so you can buy your Google Approved Apps to run in your Google Chrome Browser and OS. But it’s OK, because Google doesn’t believe in lock-in.

This is just one more reason I really don’t care for the Google Chrome web browser… I prefer to stick with a browser created by a non-profit organization that has a similar mission to mine, to promote openness on the web.

P.S. I think Google is a great search engine. They also do other things quite well, but that doesn’t mean I want them to do everything, and I definitely don’t want them to control everything.


Firefox 4 is Fast

I’ve been running the Firefox 4 betas, and I’ve been trying to keep an eye on speed, as that seems to be one of the main reasons cited for switching to Google Chrome by Firefox users I talked to.


Now, don’t get me wrong, Chrome is fast, that much is true, but I think what a lot of people forget about is the cruft. For many users, it could be a few years since they’ve done a fresh install of Firefox. I mean fresh as in “starting with a new profile” so that all your old preferences, add-ons, plug-ins, bookmarks, and other bits weren’t there.

Right now if you download Google Chrome for the first time, and launch it, there is no cruft. It launches fast. If you’ve been upgrading Firefox over the years and not starting fresh with a new profile… well, there’s cruft.

Here’s what I did, and you can try it at home. Create a new user account (if you’re running Mac OS X, just log into the “Guest Account” that wipes itself after every logout) and launch the Firefox 4 beta. For fun launch Google Chome as well. Both will be cruft-free as they won’t have any previous preferences/profile to worry about, and will be starting fresh.

In my tests, Firefox 4 launched pretty damn fast. If Chrome launches faster, it’s probably by such a small amount that most people could never tell.

Now jump back and forth between Firefox and Chrome and load various pages. Again, don’t use any magical timers, just experience it, and see if you think they are pretty close. They look pretty close to me.

As I’ve mentioned, speed isn’t everything, but it’s nice to see the Mozilla folks stepping up their game and realizing that speed is important to a lot of people. I’ve also read some comments about finding ways to “cleanse” old profile data, to help the folks who have been using the same Firefox profile for years and years, hoping for a bit better performance.

Disclaimer: This is not scientific! I did not run any benchmarks, I didn’t test Javascript engines, or anything too crazy or stressful, I just compared the experience of launching/browsing using completely fresh installs of (the latest beta of) Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. I’d love to hear some comments from a Chrome convert willing to do the same tests.


Firefox, it’s not me… it’s you!

In our last post, Mozilla Firefox vs. the World, I mentioned that we’d look at the reasons people had for switching away from Firefox. I posed the question on Twitter, which also flows through Facebook. If anyone listed has issue with me reposting your words, let me know and I’ll remove them.

That said, here’s what people told me. I should note that I consider most (but not all) of these people pretty technologically savvy. Most know their way around web development or programming to some degree. None of them are Aunt Tillie.

3 Strikes, and you're OUT!

John Bailey
I switched from Firefox to Chrome. I just couldn’t stand how much slower firefox got with every update. As well as using like 500+MB memory. Chrome is much snappier. Uses less RAM. Each tab is a separately killable process. So no screwy Javascript in a tab can crash the browser.

Samantha Hawley
I gave up Firefox for Google Chrome. For some reason my Firefox would take a long time to load. Once I downloaded Chrome I noticed it was faster. I don’t know why.

Tom Henrich
I dropped Firefox for Chrome months ago. Chrome is lightning fast compared to the bloat of Firefox, even when you have dozens of tabs open. I still use Firefox at work simply because it’s got more developer-related extensions for debugging (and the Firefox versions work… better), but at home it’s nothing but Chrome. I didn’t even bother installing Firefox when I got a new computer. Just wasn’t worth the hassle.

Dossy Shiobara
Speed, mostly. Firefox has gotten sluggish in 3.x, and the only add-ons I had were Firebug and Greasemonkey. I used to miss Firebug’s Net panel once in a while, but is 10x more useful and works for any HTTP client – so I don’t miss it any more. WebKit inspector has proven to be a more than adequate replacement for Firebug, too.

Gary Kramlich
Chrome/Chromium until something faster with better integration (good luck) comes out.

Greg Tarnoff
Chrome for speed when I am surfing. Still use Firefox for dev though.

Rarely use Firefox now, it’s painful when i do. Poorly rendered embedded fonts/CSS3 elements, my comp go freezepop, ugly interface.

EtherCycle Design
We dumped Firefox for Chrome in our office 7 weeks ago. Separate tab processes. Native Greasemonkey support. Better search integration. Better Javascript performance. Extensions dont crash.

Paul Conigliaro
I’ve moved on to Safari. I use OS X & wanted a more integrated browser. Services are what pushed me to Safari. And there seemed to be less lag. I also do some development and Safari actually has a really good feature set once enabled. Plus webkit is just fun to play with. Plus I got tired of the upgrade cycle. It’s a browser, I don’t want to beta test it. I just want it to be stable.

M. Kelley
I ditched Firefox and use Chrome on Linux/Mac/Windows. It has less bloat than Firefox. Much faster than any of the Mozilla browsers. I do web dev on there.

Chris Jaure
I gave up Firefox for daily browsing, but it’s still my primary development browser. I use Chrome for browsing. I’d switch back if Firefox were faster and had a single search/address bar. And websockets. Websockets didn’t appear to be working in the Firefox beta (with our existing app, not sure if the API is the same).

Vic Wu
I gave up Firefox for Chrome. I just browse. Firefox was giving me login issues with a handful of sites even with saved cookies. I was unable to get a fix for it.

Andy Kant
I switched from Firefox to Safari for general browsing, still use Firefox as my primary debugger though.

I went back to IE from Firefox about two years ago.

Philip Crawford
I’ve given up Firefox multiple times for Safari, but I keep going back. I mainly prefer Firefox for dev tools, but it’s a memory hog.

Thanks everyone…. There are some great responses in there. A lot of what people seemed to be saying was that Firefox wasn’t as fast as whatever other browser they are using now. (Chrome seemed to be in the lead over Safari, and I’m still not sure that IE comment wasn’t a joke.)

The one area where Firefox seemed to have an edge was with web development tools/add-ons. This has definitely been one of the reasons I’ve stuck with Firefox over the years, as I’ve found an environment that works for me in Firefox, and it didn’t matter if I was using Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux… Firefox (or Iceweasel) worked pretty much the same on each, providing a similar experience and similar tools.

Feel free to leave a comment explaining why you left Firefox for some other browser.

I know, I still didn’t get into why alternatives to Firefox may not be as good as you think they are, but I will… This post on reasons people switched should hold you over for now.

See Also: Cheap Thrills, Speed Kills… and Mozilla Firefox vs. the World.