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Once upon a time…. Firefox

A couple of months ago, my son was struggling with the old laptop from his elder sister. Old laptop, running the same original Vista since 4 years…. you know what I am talking about, right? Bad, very bad perfomances. The kind of performances where you cannot event enjoy surfing the web….

The teen-ager was not so hot on the fact that his old IT daddy would try to fix something…
…but, once he asked me an opinion on something he was doing and I saw something unexpected on his laptop: “Hey, are you running Chrome?“.

Yes, dad, it is the only way I can use this old PC“.

My son, for my great disillusion, is not at all a “tech guy”. He just uses the PC, without asking too many questions about how it really works. Internet, MSN, Facebook, Google, Wikipedia….. He just “has an hotmail mail account” (despite I have a domain name and an hosted IMAP server… in my naivety I thought he would have found cool to have an email address containing his family name after the “@”….).

As a person with a minimum of “computer culture”, I would have thought to Firefox first…. Why? because …
…Because…
…Because….
ah yes, because it is cool and it has a lot of handy exstensions (could I leave without Foxear, Scribefire, Tmmy and Session Manager ?)

Indeed, I have Chrome as well (and I wrote a long article on it and some other posts). But I do not use as my daily gateway to the Internet world.

I just use Chrome via the “Chrome Applications”. For instance I created one for BluePages so that, when I need to find the BP record for a collegue, I quickly fire the Chrome BluePages icon… et voil√†, I quickly get to where I need.

So, I have Chrome and I seldomly use it. I would have never thought to get Chrome as THE ALTERNATIVE to IE !

But my son, who “just uses” the PC… well he installed Chrome and uses it everyday (by the way, at Christmas he got a brand new laptop and, guess what, he still uses Chrome even if the PC is very very fast…)

Why ?
Well, at the end because of the same reason I created my Chrome Bluepages application: speed!

I (the father, the “pseudo-geek” or the “once-the-geek”) use Firefox because I like the extensions and because I got used to it. Actually it was “cool” in 2003 when I started using it and, in reality, the only extension I could not avoid is Foxear. But, sort of “I choose Firefox because I like the container in which I play“.

I think my son does not care about the container. He cares about the content. And the quickest way to get to the content is Chrome. Full stop.

I thought to this post when I read this article : “Why Firefox is doomed“. I do not know if firefox is really “doomed”…

…but I think Firefox lost the train (or, at least, one train). It lost the possibility to establish a new pattern for accessing the web. I am not that good to validate the merit of a given technology, but I think that XUL could have become something closer to RIA and Firefox the tool that would have helped transforming the web of pages into the web of applications. Concentrating on the content more than on the container.

Speculations on Google Browser (GBrowser) ?

I have read this morning an article speculating on the arrival of a new Browser on the market, a Browser labelled “Google” (or Gbrowser).
The few readers of my blog can immediately imagine that this is not the kind of news that I would have liked to hear. I personally do not like this invasion of things from Google which, under the cover of being “free for everybody”, tie us to a new monopoly (see my previous post “Internet Search should be property of no one“).
I state this even if I have no problem admitting that most of the technologies that Google, in its immense altruism, offers us are very cool and really innovative and really pushing for significant progress in the Web space.
The problem is not around how cool the presents from Google are… it is about the concept of “present” itself !

Anyway, in this specific case (GBrowser… yes, you can see that the domain name has already been registered by Google!) I think that, if the speculation actually reflects a reality, it may become something very significant, and perhaps not completely bad.

If really Google will put on the market its own branded Browser, I think that :

  1. Google will finally admit that some “footprint” is required in order to properly run today’s internet applications (this will have consequences on AJAX as we see it today, I think)
  2. Google will automatically transform what they published as “contribution” into a de-facto standard (because it will be working naturally with the new browser….)
  3. Google will create a platform onto which developers will build RIA applications

Yes, in the last bullet I wrote “RIA applications“. Because, if the Browser from Google will become true, it will obviously promote the use of Google Gears and of all the other G* things that invaded the web. A couple of months ago, I wrote my first reaction to Google Gears:

[with Google Gears] Google starts to install something else than the browser in order to keep the browser relevant”

The advent of Apollo AIR (paved by Flex) and the approaching of Vista (via Silverlight) may create serious alternatives for running applications delivered over the internet (see here and here and here for a summary of my opinion on this topic); the default mean to access to applications delivered over the net, will no more be the browser, at least when some significant experience and richness of functionality will be required.

Will Google redefine what we know today as “the browser”? Will Google remove the impedance that somehow forced the two main actors in this space (IE and Firefox) to comply (at least formally) to standards?

Again, if Google will indeed go into the Browser business, all what it gave away so far could be interpreted as a way to create “addiction, so that people will find it normal that Google will also revolutionize the browser space. After all, Google is not perceived as the “bad boys in the block“, so it is likely that this move will find only few opposers.

Despite these considerations, though, I initially wrote that this may not be a bad outcome for the web. My readers know that I consider that the browser needs a big evolution in order to support the new challenges and the execution of applications delivered over the internet. So, this move may represent a shock that will benefit the whole community.

I wished Firefox and XUL could have become this shock!!!! Perhaps they will anyway (why wouldn’t the GBrowser be based on Firefox after all?)

Of course, this is all speculation at this moment….

Firefox as a Phoenix

I am starting to digest and sediment a series of articles that recently popped out on Mozilla. The one who hit me most was Chris Messina’s Thoughts on Mozilla, but also Alex Faaborg’s Web2.0 Expo presentation. I will certainly add more comments in the next few days.
For the moment I would like to comment on the Innovation aspect.

Imho, Firefox should not bet its future on “being the best browser”. In this way it will simply set its path, in one way or the other, “on respect to something else” (notably IE).
What the user interface of Linux already did (KDE or Gnome for that matter) in trying to, first “catch” and, then, “be better than” Windows… did not produce any significant result in terms of innovation (in fact if the price wouldn’t play a role, most of the people would choose a Mac because of its interface, certainly not Linux).

So, if from the phoenix (of Firefox as we know it) could raise something new, a platform where applications delivered through the web could be executed, then, I think, it will be great. Yes, certainly, this is the domain in which Adobe and Microsoft are also directing their efforts (I tend to agree with Scoble that JavaFX is more for the mobile-phones) .
But Mozilla could consolidate the effort from the Open Source community and this would be really a great advantage.

Let’s dream about XUL+SVG ….

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