Google Chrome Extensions
Chrome is the newest browser that is available for people to use on the internet, and the ‘next big thing’ in terms of addons and applications will be Google Chrome extensions. When Chrome was first released, it was extremely fast and had many features which internet users had been looking for for a long time. The browser market, however, is already dominated by two major organizations – Microsoft and its Internet Explorer software and Mozilla with Firefox.
How was Google going to position itself in this already slightly saturated market? They went for optimization of their code, making what is sometimes called slow (the browser) and making it lightning fast. They realised that the everyday user online cares only for retrieving information quickly, and that boot-up speed and flexibility was a big factor for people when surfing online.
The launch of Chrome was a huge fanfare, but after a few months they were having problems breaking through the 5% level in terms of overall users. So what was the reason that people were not trying and then sticking with Chrome? The answer was customization.
Internet Explorer’s major advantage over the competition in the browser marketplace was some decidedly shady tactics that Microsoft employed over the last twenty years in terms of supplying their own browser in new installs of its operating system, Windows. This practice has since been challenged in courts around the world, and MS has been forced to pay huge amounts of money in compensation to certain companies, and indeed probably caused the bankruptcy of many, many others.
The internet generation grew up with Windows and Internet Explorer, and it became the de facto standard software for people who knew no better. It was a huge monopoly which looked as if it would continue unchecked in perpetuity. Then Firefox was born.
Firefox began as an open-source project to create a new, better, faster browser – to try to avoid the drawbacks of a monopoly caused by Microsoft. IE was by no means perfect, and was becoming slow and susceptible to attacks by virus writers and makers who targeted the dominant brand. Firefox was supported by a huge number of organizations and people, especially tech-savvy netizens who demanded more from their product. Google itself invested in the non-profit which was developing Firefox, as well as the once-defeated Netscape organization.
Firefox flourished, and its popularity has grown more and more over the last few years as even regular internet users have realised that there is an option to using Internet Explorer at home and in the workplace. Communities of people began working on extending the functionality of Firefox ahead of IE, and these addons that were written became more widely distributed until they were seen as standard by the surfing population.
When Chrome was launched, people remembered how fast Firefox was when it was first released. Many thought that Chrome would become the new alternative to IE due to this speed, but they failed to realize that the reason it was so quick was because it had a standard installation with zero addons and extensions. This was not a good thing for Google.
The Chromium project (who are in charge of developing both the Chrome browser and new operating system) had to adapt, and so they decided to themselves allow extensions to their browser, so that independent developers could advance the functionality of the software and users could be able to use features which they were now used to in their browser.
The first few Google Chrome extensions that were shown off were developed by Google themselves, and include some very simple addons as well as a couple of more complex ones. The functionality of adding a site’s RSS to your reader is seen as standard to most people, but it was unavailable until the Chrome extension was released. They also released a ‘check Google mail’ plugin which would tell you how many messages are in your inbox, and it gives one-click access to your inbox.
The best extension that was revealed early is Bubble Translate – which allowed ‘on the fly’ translation (using Google’s translate facility) of webpages. Obviously these are just the tip of the iceberg, and there will be huge numbers of addons, plugins and extensions for Google Chrome to come in the near future. We will then see how it fares against its two, well established rivals.
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