free html hit counter The Browser Wars: Looking at the Wrong Thing - John Battelle's Search Blog

The Browser Wars: Looking at the Wrong Thing

By - October 13, 2004

googatesOK, so now AOL is getting back into the browser wars, says eWeek. And the speculation about Google entering the game is overwhelming. Well, Doerr said at Web 2.0 it ain’t gonna happen, and I don’t think it will. At least, not in the way the traditional narrative might have it. I’ve concluded that the point is not the browser, it’s the platform, and Google already has one to build on. It’s the web (and IE, in fact).

SEW blog points to Google’s strategy: building on top of the browser.

From an Indian web site pointed to by SEW:

Internet search service company Google today said that it was engaged in developing technology that was aimed at bringing about improvements in web browsers.

”There has been much speculation. But our work is focussed on improving the browsing experience,” Google co-Founder and President (Technology) Sergey Brin told reporters here.

The world’s most popular search services outfit touched off a flurry of speculation that it was planning to introduce a web browser after it registered the domain name gbrowser.com in April.

”Today’s browsers are doing a pretty good job, but they can be improved. What we are looking to do is to enhance the quality of the browsing experience,” he said.

What does that mean? It means that the browser is a commodity. Note while the journalist said “improving the browser”, what Sergey said in fact was “improving the browsing experience.” This is an important distinction. Google will build something else, something which will presume the browser as a starting point, and make *what is being browsed* more valuable. There are already plenty of folks who are making the browser valuable. Google’s play is in what the browser shows you, not the browser itself. That was the brilliance of Google 1.0, and I’d warrant the same will be true of version 2.


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9 thoughts on “The Browser Wars: Looking at the Wrong Thing

  1. I still don’t have time to write this up properly, but I’ll stick with what I told John in an email a month or two ago: put the idea of Google browser and the hiring of Adam Bosworth (formerly of BEA, most recently working on the Alchemy project) together and you get a browser with a massive improvement in the browsing experience — a browser + a flexible local caching framework: answer, forward and file GMail from a plane and it syncs with the next connection. Have a local cache of recent searches. Pull down the latest posts in your Google groups, etc.

    Google has the distribution, but why distribute a a rebranded Firefox? If it’s just simple extensions, then distribute the extensions (a la Google toolbar for IE). If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do something significant (or at least they ought to).

    Throw in file I/O and you have the complete new platform (and probably a good unified app to manage search of the local machine as well).

  2. I still don’t have time to write this up properly, but I’ll stick with what I told John in an email a month or two ago: put the idea of Google browser and the hiring of Adam Bosworth (formerly of BEA, most recently working on the Alchemy project) together and you get a browser with a massive improvement in the browsing experience — a browser + a flexible local caching framework: answer, forward and file GMail from a plane and it syncs with the next connection. Have a local cache of recent searches. Pull down the latest posts in your Google groups, etc.

    Google has the distribution, but why distribute a a rebranded Firefox? If it’s just simple extensions, then distribute the extensions (a la Google toolbar for IE). If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do something significant (or at least they ought to).

    Throw in file I/O and you have the complete new platform (and probably a good unified app to manage search of the local machine as well).

  3. Ian Kennedy says:

    One could argue that Microsoft views Office as the the next generation browser and that is where they are focusing their efforts. The pieces are all there – dynamically pull the latest XML data via Excel, use InfoPath to contribute structured data, NewsGator pulls in RSS into Outlook, and the Research Pane on Word 2003 is basically a simple browser. Still waiting to see a web-enabled PowerPoint though. . . oh wait, that’s why MSFT purchased Placeware!

  4. Nick says:

    After context sensible ad’s in unregistered opera
    I think that Google thinks not just about to glue user request to context. Which can be possible used in search improvment technology, but in knowing your preffered sites (and common request). It will give them another leash to you and possibly your control. AND THE WORLD DOMINATION OF GOOGLE ZAIBATSU! :)
    It could be fun :)

  5. Tony Gentile says:

    I called no joy on the browser rumors three weeks back:
    http://www.buzzhit.com/2004/09/now-theyre-doing-browser.html

    Here’s what I think it’s really about:
    http://www.buzzhit.com/2004/10/2006-king-of-content-google-or-apple.html

    BTW, having helped build a couple of Web Services platforms (Overture and Ofoto/Kodak) and a half dozen IP enabled client-server apps (most notably PointCast), I get the whole “Web as a Platform meme”… but, IMO, it’s simply in service of what matters to begin with… “content”.

  6. paul says:

    John,
    The browser centric web is finished, Smart Clients and Feedreaders are playing an ever increasing role in our on-line experience.

  7. Cap'n Ken says:

    Anybody notice Google released Desktop Search today?

    desktop DOT google DOT com

  8. googlesucks says:

    google is trying to be another microsoft and to dominate the world using their search technology. I’d like to see more competition going on and not a google this google that world…