Google's Chrome-yism. Are Multiple Internets The End Game?Google's Chrome-yism. Are Multiple Internets The End Game?
I've installed and played with Chrome but I'll spare you my review of it. What's more interesting to me and of concern to you is where the Internet is heading as specific client- and server-side technologies (as well as the entities in between) become deeply aligned with one another at the expense of openness. Or should I say Internets? Upon close examination, the executives of Google and Mozilla, two organizations famously aligned against mutual rivals, didn't mince words. From 3,000 miles away
September 2, 2008
I've installed and played with Chrome but I'll spare you my review of it. What's more interesting to me and of concern to you is where the Internet is heading as specific client- and server-side technologies (as well as the entities in between) become deeply aligned with one another at the expense of openness. Or should I say Internets? Upon close examination, the executives of Google and Mozilla, two organizations famously aligned against mutual rivals, didn't mince words. From 3,000 miles away, the tension is palpable and Chrome and Android probably have more to do with one another than meets the eye.Earlier today, noting that Chrome was so important that both Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were on hand for the announcement, InfoWorld reported:
Larry Page and Sergey Brin came out to support Chrome, saying that browser technology is fundamental to the company's success, so Google decided to get more involved in this area.... "Everything we do is running on the Web platform. It's very important to us that works well," Page said during a press conference Tuesday that was Webcast from Google's headquarters....Brin concurred, saying that the ultimate goal of Chrome isn't to be a Web operating system of sorts, but rather a better browser vehicle for the next generation of Web applications, a core business for Google..."I wouldn't call Chrome the OS of Web apps. It's a very basic, fast engine to run Web apps. We'll see more and more Web apps of greater and greater sophistication, of the kinds of things that today are pretty challenging to do on the Web because of browser performance," Brin said. Page and Brin's comments are almost perfectly dovetailed by those of Mozilla CEO John Lilly who, in his response to the announcement of Chrome, wrote: It should come as no real surprise that Google has done something here -- their business is the Web, and they've got clear opinions on how things should be, and smart people thinking about how to make things better. Chrome will be a browser optimized for the things that they see as important, and it'll be interesting to see how it evolves. "Clear opinions." "Things that they see important." Just about anybody can read between the lines. Google has a business to run and to grow and it has a vision for what will make that business the most successful it can be. It also has some "clear opinions" about what it will take on the client side to deliver the best possible user experience. Opinions that must not be universally shared, especially between Google and Mozilla. Or Lilly would not have said what he did. Harkening back to the days of Ray Noorda and coopetition, executives on both sides went out of their way to downplay the impact Chrome may have on Mozilla's Firefox. All is well. Everything is peachy. After all, Google just last week re-upped its search partnership with Mozilla for untold millions. Coincidental timing? I'd like to believe so. But it's hard to imagine Lilly voicing too much opposition right after another generous infusion from Mountain View. Bottom line, there is still room for improvement in the name of that Holy Grail of a user experience that Google is after. The one it can't get from Internet Explorer or Firefox. Tearing a page out of Apple's iPod/iTunes playbook, there's pretty much only one way to guarantee that the friction will get worked out to Google's satisfaction and that's for it to take matters into its own hands. Enter Chrome. Android, too (and let's not forget that, much the same way Chrome will represent Google's blend of the Web, Android was similarly controversial as a new blend of mobile Java). The more things change, the more they stay the same. If I've learned anything in the last week of turning in my Windows Mobile-based phone for a BlackBerry, it's that as good as the BlackBerry experience is when working with various Google services, it can be a lot better. Like with browsers, Google can leave its fate in the hands of others (in the case of mobile, those others would be Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Symbian [Nokia], and Palm). Or, it can take matters into its own hands and build a client -- another mobile OS -- on which Google's suite of online applications will purr like a kitten. We can hardly fault Google. As decisions go, these are no-brainer moves for a company with the engineering resources and cash that Google has. The problem is the end game. Picture Chrome and Android working better with Google's Web apps than other similar technologies. Picture Windows Mobile and Internet Explorer working better with Microsoft's server-side technologies than those of Microsoft's competitors. Then picture Apple's iPhones and iPods working not just better but pretty much exclusively with iTunes and the iTunes Music Store and, then, in the case of the iPhone, exclusively with one local wireless carrier. We're already pretty much 2 for 3. No. Technically, it's not three different Internets. But based on how people and businesses usually end up consuming technology, it might as well be. Again, you can hardly fault any company for taking such matters into its own hands. And, at least in Google's case, they're playing the open source card (with both Android and Chrome). To me, it's like Google is saying "We wish it could have been some other way. But we're doing what we can (and way more than the others) to keep it as open as possible." Relatively speaking, that's true. But even so, I fear the net result will be the same: a bunch of silos instead of an open Internet. What about you? Feel free to comment below.
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