Great Googly Moogly
January 29, 2005 3:58 AM   Subscribe

Forget about P&G and Gilette, how 'bout Google & Firefox? Is Google developing their own browser? They appear to be hiring Firefox developers. Can Googzilla be far behind?
posted by fixedgear (25 comments total)

Browser schmowser, I want Google to release their own OS.
posted by alumshubby at 5:18 AM on January 29, 2005

posted by nofundy at 5:27 AM on January 29, 2005

It's possible the Firefox devs were hired for behind-the-scenes work. Google could be seeking to integrate some similar caching into their servers, along with some more robust XML and PHP support for later search engine builds.

If the company decides to license or develop their own browser, it would most likely be for internal (LAN) use with their enterprise servers, rather than a mainstream build for the hoi polloi. Such an interface could be used for administrative tasks, in a manner not unlike the Cobalt Qube's layout or their real likely target, Novell Netware EWS.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:53 AM on January 29, 2005

I heard about this last week on CNN. The newsmen discussing it were salivating over the idea of a Google browser.
posted by iconomy at 6:04 AM on January 29, 2005

The newsmen discussing it were salivating over the idea of a Google browser.

I don't get it. What exactly would a "Google browser" be? Would access to Google's proprietary information make it better than Firefox?

Or is that just more brandname-activated salivation?
posted by at 6:48 AM on January 29, 2005

Brandname-activated salivation.
posted by Veritron at 6:50 AM on January 29, 2005

A Google browser could bring us one step closer to a truly semantic web (not to be confused with the IMHO badly named Semantic Web). PageRank based on what links where is one thing, but being able to base it on actual browsing habits would improve the strength of the results, and diminish comment spamming and wiki spamming to virtually useless.

Lots of people, including me, said "I don't get it. It just does search" when Google started their first public beta. I'm willing to wait and see, this time.
posted by Plutor at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2005

I guess a gbrowser would be a good place to beta test data services that could then be implemented on a wider scale in Firefox.
posted by carter at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2005

So when do I get my Gbox?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2005

P_G: as soon as you find the GSpot.
posted by terrapin at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2005

We don't need a google browser! We have firefox. Both are great. Besides, on Ben Goodger weblog he states that he is still committed to the Firefox browser. Having such talents on the other side of Microsoft has been great for all of us. Competition is a really good thing...

[btw: first post here! I've been wanting to be a member for over a year. Glad MeFi is taking members again!]
posted by nickerbocker at 8:19 AM on January 29, 2005

You don't need a Google Browser, but your Mum does.

I mean, how many of us have successfully convinced a member of the Great Unwashed to stop using MSIE and use Firefox instead? Not many, I suspect - I see this story over and over again.

If Google can use it's brand recognition amongst the general public to get Firefox or something like it wider usage outside of the tech community, this would be about the best thing since sliced bread, IMO.
posted by pascal at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2005


Since I serve as informal tech support ("Oh, sysadmin boy!") for a loose network of family and friends, I have convinced at least a dozen people to switch to Firefox on this basis:

"If you keep using IE, I'm not going to help you fix your computer any more, because you're just inviting trouble and not doing everything you can to protect yourself. Here, let me help you install this much better browser..." (I throw AdAware and a few other goodies on their system at the same time.)

After a brief demonstration of tabbed browsing, etc. everybody pretty much loves it.
posted by enrevanche at 9:05 AM on January 29, 2005

Until Bill Gates, King of the internets, makes it compulsory to use, or until Google codes Micro$oftily to break other browsers using, I don't see what the big deal is. Why should we not have 10,000 non-IE browsers, assuming they're all standards-compliant?
posted by davy at 9:05 AM on January 29, 2005

From the last link: Over the past seven months, Internet Explorer usage has dropped from 95.5 to 90.3, a 5.8 percent drop.

Um, no, fuckwit, it's a 5.2 percent drop.

pascal, count me as another who has converted several people to firefox, and without much effort.</em
posted by bingo at 9:18 AM on January 29, 2005

I'd be far more interested if a gbrowser had more to do with the local filesystem than it does the web.

Firefox can browse the local filesystem, but it isn't really a very effective tool to manage (or search) the local filesystem.

IE does it slightly better, but most people tend to use Explorer to browse their local computer's filesystem. The Explorer filebrowser can be used as a web browser, but it doesn't do that as effectively as either IE or Firefox.

If there was a program that could be used as a web browser and a file system browser that could do both jobs extremely well, with a powerful search function that could handle both of those environments and a single interface to both local and remote filesystems that could handle and cache authentication as necessary, I think I would use it.
posted by snarfodox at 9:19 AM on January 29, 2005

Google doesn't need to hire firefox developers to release a Google browser. This is why they call it "open source".

Let's look at a few things hiring firefox developers gets them:

1) Insurance that development will continue with the existing team (i.e.: the developers they hire won't find something else to do with their time).

2) An inside track on adding new features that everyone using Firefox will have to have (unless they're removed by someone else), not just those using the Google browser.

3) Expertise in what the browser is doing with end-user supplied application data (i.e.: interactive applications). An inside track on bug fixes when problems occur (see point 2).
posted by Caviar at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2005

95.5 to 90.3, a 5.8 percent drop

Sorry, Bingo, but 5.8 is correct. It is not subtraction, it is markup/markdown.
posted by fixedgear at 9:38 AM on January 29, 2005

Insurance that development will continue with the existing team

This is what I first thought when I read about this. Seems like Google is simply making sure that Firefox continues development.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:50 AM on January 29, 2005

(laughing at jokers who argue & still can't get it right; patiently plug numbers into calculator and get: .945 -- so, it's actually 5.5 percent.)
posted by minnesotaj at 10:15 AM on January 29, 2005

A browser by Google would be a waste of time IMHO. Firefox was perfect as the David to the Goliath, which the open-source model successfully supports. 10 years ago the development of the browser/www/Internet was the first shot across the bow of the desktop environment (meaning complex OS maintaining a local view.) Since then the erosion of this environment has continued, the only thing left is to topple the OS; the first company to create a true appliance type computing environment (which can have a home plug-in, a work plug-in, etc.) will topple the butter of the OS market for MS. Meanwhile MS branches out (Xbox) and Apple profits come from an MP3 player. A micro-OS that quickly runs apps, is stable and my (former) boss could use it anywhere is what is needed.

The money is to be made on items this device will access - services and information.

I would suggest Apple brings back the Newton OS (with color and faster processor), Sony designs the box and Goolgle has a transaction engine for pulling/putting information. What would we have...handwriting recognition, smaller than today's notebook, information at your fingertips -connected or not, an interface that works and hopefully a price tag that shoots this into 75% of peoples hands. (Oh gobs of memory, security chip and interfaces for camera, memory, network, etc.)

posted by fluffycreature at 10:37 AM on January 29, 2005

Are you guys forgetting XUL? XUL will make "Web Applications" a reality. XUL requires Mozilla. Google is going to push this forward. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this example:

Mozilla Amazon Browser (Mozilla Required)
posted by afx114 at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2005

Its definitely insurance. Taking responsibility for running another browser war would be very expensive... MS still has more cash, and that's a battle they would win. Methinks Google wants to keep Firefox's marketshare just high enough that web developers have to be compatible with it, without threatening MS enough to invite retaliation.
posted by gsteff at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2005

XUL would make web applications a reality if developers actually used it. The day when enough browsers support it for it to be profitiable is still at least several years off. Its one of those chicken or the egg things, and I don't think most web developers would put in the time it takes to build a new interface like that unless at least 20% of their users could take advantage of it. Plus, when you consider that everyone knows that MS is coming out with a competing technology (XAML) in about two years, and that all XUL development could be for naught if XAML ends up becoming the de facto standard, and you can understand why few people bother to learn it.
posted by gsteff at 11:21 AM on January 29, 2005

Is this really about browsers? As long as Firefox continues to integrate Google services, Google is in the browser game.

This seems to be a move towards implementing Google Services, Google Tools and Google's Specialized Searches directly into a new kind of web app.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a new type of browser where your access to news, content, your blog, the internet, etc as well as everything on your PC with desktop searches and browser based applications resides in one web-based application -- alumshubby's "GoogleOS" -- which runs on any PC.

Which begs the question -- when can I get mine?
posted by thataway_guy at 11:21 AM on January 29, 2005

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