There have been discussions recently that badmouth Safari for being a bit behind on web technologies. I agree that Safari needs a bit more focus, but that doesn’t make it the new Internet Explorer. If anyone is, it’s Google Chrome.
Now I’m not saying that Chrome is a bad browser. It’s a really good browser, but we’re still in that phase where we think Chrome can’t do anything wrong. We look past the flaws and tell everyone how amazing it is. We use to be there with Internet Explorer once too. Remember?
At its height, Internet Explorer was the most used browser, and people started developing just for Internet Explorer. That’s what got us into trouble. It took a while to get there, but we’re still digging out of that hole today.
Chrome is currently the most used browser and, unfortunately, people are starting to develop for Chrome and disregard other browsers. Since x technology works in Chrome, we develop for that. This decision may seem to make sense right now, but we’re just re-created the Internet Explorer problem with a new browser.
Internet Explorer was also doing things its own way. This included using technologies that no other browser could re-produce. Chrome has quite often developed some of its flagship products and/or new features to only work in Chrome at first, and then rolling them out later to other browsers. However, even then, things don’t always work as good in other browsers as it does in Chrome. At least Google’s trying to play nice.
As companies start to build out web apps, they’re starting to do the same thing. They focus quite a bit on Chrome and less on other browsers. They think “if it works in Chrome, then it should work in most other browsers.” Is it true? Did you QA it in other browsers? What about the future? What if Chrome is not amazing in a few years?
Google is also making some odd choices. Things like building out its own notification system instead of integrating to the OS, making questionable UX decisions that users hate, and caring more about browser performance than your laptop, are just a few of those areas that make me wonder what Chrome’s focus really is. Is it us? Nope. Never was. Chrome is really just a way to mine data. Privacy concerns anyone? We have them with Microsoft, what makes Google any better? Oh yea, we like Google more at the moment.
Lets not forget about the extensions and apps that Chrome is building out. Just more ways to ensure that their users don’t think twice about moving browsers. The more you install, the less likely you’ll switch. Hopefully Google can at least figure out how to make them safe.
Again, I’m not saying that Chrome is a bad browser. It has a lot of good features and it’s helping push all browsers forward. It’s got a great developer toolset and is constantly pushing new features and functionality. It’s looking pretty good right now, but that’s what we said about Internet Explorer back in the day too.
I also don’t think that Safari, Firefox, or Opera are prefect either. Everyone has their flaws.
So what’s our option? Just to stop using Chrome? That’s not going to happen anytime soon and it shouldn’t. However, we need to realize that the more competition we have in the browser space the better. Lets not downplay another browser just because it’s different. Different is good. They all have great features and a different target audience.
We need to remember that cutting out browser support for a different browser and saving a few lines of code doesn’t make sense. For every browser you brush off, you also brush off all their users.