When I think of Google’s new web browser, called Chrome, I experience this inescapable urge to yawn.
Oh, excuse me, I – (yaaaawwwwwn).
I realize that, as a geek who writes about stuff like web browsers, I’m supposed to care.
Heck, I’m supposed to get excited.
But, somehow, I just can’t.
You see, I’ve been through a lot of web browsers in my time.
In the beginning there was Mosaic. Then along came Navigator. Then Internet Explorer (which is really just Mosaic all over again, but branded Microsoft).
Then there was Cyberdog, iCab, Mozilla, Firefox, OmniWeb, Opera, Shirra, SeaMonkey, Camino, Flock, Safari.
And a whole bunch of other crap in between.
Now, there’s Chrome.
Another web browser.
Oh sure, the tabs look different.
And maybe it’s a little faster sometimes in certain esoteric laboratory situations.
And, of course, it has that Google beta geek-cachet.
But other than that, um…?
Google could have done so much more.
Like, as would be my preference, left well enough alone.
Because aren’t there enough inconsistent browser experiences out there without another one in the mix?
15 years after my first trip to the web and the place is still broken.
One site works well with Internet Explorer, but not so well with Firefox.
Another works with Firefox but not Safari.
Take TD Canada Trust’s site, for example.
I use it for online banking.
The site works perfectly in Safari, until it’s time to pay my business taxes.
Then the site wants me to switch to Firefox for some unknown reason.
Now get ready for sites that work in Chrome but not so much other browsers.
Chrome is just another wrinkle in the fabric of web browsers that’s already in bad need of an iron.
Hey, wait a minute. There’s what Google should have done.
Instead of Chrome, the company should have introduced Iron.
Then they should have plugged Iron in and applied heat to the web with a truly valuable new feature: an assurance of quality.
Google already knows about every site on the web. The company’s spiders have already crawled every page in existence.
Heck, the company is basically the web’s gatekeeper.
Based on this knowledge, Google Iron would make sure you only visit web sites that are “wrinkle free”.
The guarantee of a starched-smooth browsing experience would be inherent in Iron because, well, it would just leave the wrinkled sites in the laundry hamper.
If you used Iron and tried to go to a web page that doesn’t meet Google’s standard of quality, you’d get this message: “Google has deemed that this page sucks, so we’re saving you the trouble of a bad experience by preventing you from viewing it.”
Or something like that.
If this sounds like martial law, that’s because it is.
The web is still a dog’s breakfast and it’s time for somebody to step in and whip it into shape.
And Google’s the perfect company to do it.
It has the geek cred.
It has consumer trust (over 90% of web searches are conducted using Google).
And if the company has the cojones to release something as daftly lame as Wave, then it is certainly brave enough to institute the web’s first private security force.
But, actually, there’s all that privacy and neutrality and other legal crap they’d have to deal with if Iron ever saw the light of day.
And even Google doesn’t have enough money in its coffers to battle that many lawyers.
So, instead of Iron, we have Chrome, yet-another-browser that adds yet-another variable for web failure to the mix without bringing any significant new benefits to the scene.
So in closing, I’d just like to say that Chome is… um… zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, December 11, 2009.