I’m primarily a Firefox user and I often move between a Windows PC which of course have their own web browser, But in the last couple of weeks, I actually have to download Google Chrome on three separate occasions because the three browsers that I have installed on My machines are apparently just not enough to run Google websites well anymore and sadly it is not just me.
The tech news is full of mysterious bugs and errors that pop up all the time and Google has purpose-built some sites like hangouts and Google Earth for example to only work in Chrome at least for a couple of years. So in this article, Let’s talk about HOW and WHY Google is trying to turn Chrome into a monopoly.
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Annoying Google Tools
Alright, I’ll start with my personal experiences. One of the random Google chrome tools I use as a student is the end screen editor. The tools to put these interactive little buttons at the end of my projects, and about 2 months ago It stopped working out of nowhere in all three of my browsers.
A month later when it still didn’t get fixed I tweeted at YouTube to ask what was going on and they had a simple solution for me I should just use a different browser. Well luckily for them I guess the one that worked was Google Chrome So I downloaded it, put up my end screen cards, and a few weeks later one day, she got fixed I just deleted Chrome again.
No biggie. A week or two after that I had to hop on a call with my partner manager from YouTube and since she is a Google employee we of course used Google Hangouts in the browser for the call. Except not in MY browser of course, as Hangouts straight up doesn’t work in Firefox.
Why an additional plugin? A smart business strategy
Since it was on my Linux I decided to use Firefox. Turns out you need to install a plug-in which I did and I got a random error I could have probably fixed this somehow but the call was in like two minutes. So I just got Chrome and hopped on the call. At this point, I was a little bit annoyed but whatever I deleted Chrome after the call and then got on with my life.
But then recently I tried to add subtitles to my latest POC video Like I always do and suddenly the subtitle editor doesn’t work in Firefox. Neither on my PC nor on Cloud. I tweeted at YouTube again, but this time they didn’t reply to me, and instead, I only saw reports of other users confirming that they had the same issue as well.
So just like a well-trained monkey, I download Chrome and who would have thought it just works now if I were a normal human being this is probably the point where I was just switched to Chrome because obviously Chrome is the browser where everything just seems to work, right, but of course I’m not a normal human being so I got angry at Google instead and decided to write this article because my issues, as it turns out, they’re not some isolated little errors.
Poke to Google Chrome
Just a few weeks ago, Google temporarily blocked Google Meet, which is their enterprise video calling app, from working in the new Microsoft Edge and a few days later, they blocked the same browser from accessing the modern version of YouTube, instead of reverting users to a really old version That’s extra weird because the new edge even uses Google’s own rendering edge in chromium.
So it should handle websites the exact same way as chrome itself and indeed when users Manually changed their user agent to pretend that they’re Chrome Both of these websites worked just fine.
And then there are tons of reports like this thread from a Firefox engineer that claims that Google suddenly used some outdated non-standard API on YouTube which is only supported by Chrome that all of a sudden made YouTube load 5 times slower on Firefox and Edge than in Chrome or Like this thread from a previous VP at Mozilla claiming Google introduced Hundreds of Firefox-specific bugs and errors to Google Sites each time convincing many users to switch over to Chrome Instead.
I could go on and list a bunch of other similar issues, but I think you get my point Google websites are just constantly riddled with strange bugs and just aren’t very well optimized on anything that isn’t Chrome.
That’s not even talking about websites like hangouts or Google Earth that for years only worked in chromium.
when was the last time Mozilla, Apple, or Microsoft Built a major service that only worked in their own browser and then kept it that way for years?
On the Google Earth website, they even used the Chrome logo as the logo for the web. As if the web for consumers should just equal to Chrome and to anyone who’s been around in the nineties or in the early 2000s, this sort of behavior should seem strangely familiar because we’ve seen it before Microsoft back in the days used their dominance with Internet Explorer to strangle other competing web browsers like Netscape for example.
Sure, Microsoft might have been way more Straightforward in their anti-competitive behavior. But Google is achieving the same results Even if they use much more subtle tools. Instead of actually trying to break Compatibility standards across the web like Microsoft did all Google needs to do is a bit of malicious neglect.
Given how reliant many people including myself are on Google services. It’s enough for those to work noticeably worse and competing browsers every now And then. That alone will slowly end up killing competing browsers just fine. It’s death by a thousand cuts and not even obvious to people Looking at it from the outside.
There is a rational, non-malicious explanation to any one of these issues on their own and tech websites Love to point them out. The new edge for example is still in preview. So maybe Google just didn’t test for it. Hangouts is being phased out in exchange for Meet So maybe they didn’t want to bother making it work on other browsers anymore.
Google Chrome Browser Integrity issue with Youtube Tools
YouTube tools are only used by a few people. So maybe they’re not all that important and so on. All of these can technically be explained in isolation. But together they create a malicious anti-competitive pattern, a pattern where Google has Clearly decided that if something works in chrome, that’s good enough and if it breaks in another browser Who cares they can just fix it Once they get enough complaints. Until then users can just get Chrome.
In my last article, I explained why Microsoft suddenly stopped being anti-competitive because their new business model incentivized them to become a good citizen. I believe that companies are ultimately driven by their business incentives And so that’s probably also what’s driving Google Chrome in this case we all know that over 80% of Google’s revenue comes from advertisements and chrome is Essential for letting them track you across the web and to make sure that you actually see the ads that they want to show you.
Nearly all competing browsers like Firefox, Safari brave and even the new Microsoft edge have added built-in blocking for web trackers and ads, most of them turned on by default, and they’re increasingly getting more and more aggressive about them seeing it as a point of differentiation Versus the dominant chrome, in other words, these browsers directly threaten Google’s ability to track users.
And to show them ads Google, on the other hand, has recently introduced their own default ad blocker on Chrome Except they only block Competing ads, not their own, and they’ve made changes to Google chrome that make it harder for third-party adblockers to block trackers across the web.
By limiting things like how many blacklisted services they can have in their database and I think the Incentives are pretty clear to see. Now, if you care about the web enough to read this article, I think you’ll really enjoy this fantastic article on the Tor browser-(The entry Gate to Dark web).
Signing Off for now, See you again with the next article.
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