Google’s Real Reason for Chrome

Call me cynical, but I think there’s more to Google’s new Chrome browser than a stable platform for web apps. At least, I hope so. My experience with Chrome has been a mixed bag. Although I love Chrome’s clean appearance, it has issues:

  • Adobe Reader makes all of Chrome’s tabs inaccessible until the document is fully loaded.
  • Attempting to select all the text in a text form field by pressing CTRL-A sometimes results in selecting the entire page.
  • Streamed audio using Windows Media plugin in one Chrome tab will stutter like a skipping record while another tab renders.
  • Chrome even has issue with Google’s web apps (especially Google’s web apps?). For example, the “J” key doesn’t always mark an item as read in Google Reader, especially if there’s only one unread post.

No, if stability was its goal, Google would have (should have) waited.

Google is an advertising company. The more data Google gets, the better it can target its advertising. I can imagine Google’s engineers sitting around a conference room table, scheming to get even more data from us. “I know,” one particularly devious engineer must have laughed. “What if we could get all the searches people do on any web site, not just on Google?” “How could we ever do that?” another might have asked. The answer was simple: make sure they use a Google tool for all searches. Chrome’s Omni bar is that tool.

Every URL you ever type into your Omni bar goes straight to Google, whether you press enter or not. If you use the tab key to search other sites from the Omni bar, Google gets that, too.

Sure, it’s possible to hide this data from Google, but do you want to give up all the help the Omni bar provides as you type? Not me!

And that’s what Google’s betting on.

What do you think? Are you buying Google’s story?

Or am I being too cynical?

Google Chrome — First Impressions

Having used Google Chrome for nearly an hour, it’s time to document my first impressions.

  1. It installs fast! Chrome downloaded and installed so fast that I thought I’d just executed an installer that would download and install the real app.
  2. It’s smart. Chrome figured out my proxy settings and used them before I realized I hadn’t told it what to do.
  3. It’s bare. There’s not much visible around the window. There’s not typical status bar at the bottom of the window, just a little bar that pops up when needed. There’s no title bar at the top of the window. There’s no menu row. No button bar. Just tabs, the “omni bar,” and five icons for forward, back, reload, favorite, page options, and tools.
  4. It doens’t have a bookmarks sidebar. This is a major loss for me. I have Firefox set up with all my bookmarks arranged so I can open multiple sites at once, depending on what I want to do. For example, I can open my blog’s admin screen, Twitter, FriendFeed, GMail, and Google Reader with one click of my center mouse button. I can open 19 news sites (okay, they’re web comics) with another click. Chrome’s bookmark ribbon below the omni bar doesn’t seem to provide the same easy functionality. The new tab page is great, but showing only my top nine visited sites won’t cut it. I hope I’m just missing something here.
  5. There are no plugins available, yet. I expected this to be a big one for me. I use Firebug a lot and had hoped it would be available soon for Chrome. Chrome has an inspect element feature (right click and select “inspect element”) that provides much of the functionality I want. I’m also waiting for myVidoop’s plugin.
  6. It’s not perfect. I’m not sure what I did to cause the following dialog box, but it happened shortly after I deleted all my bookmarks and reimported from Firefox. I don’t know if it’s related, but when I restarted Chrome, the bookmarks were still there.
  7. So far, I like it!

I’m looking forward to hearing what other people think about Chrome.

Update. The booksmarks ribbon is not as bad as I originally thought. I was able to drag folders from my imported Firefox bookmarks into the ribbon, right click on the folder, and select “open all bookmarks.” Not quite as easy as middle-clicking, but very close.