Mozilla could form base of a Google browser

Mozilla could form base of a Google browser

Summary: Analysts agree that it would be of little benefit for Google to create a browser from scratch, but it could add value by adding components onto the open-source browser Mozilla


Rumours flew around the Web on Tuesday about Google's potential plans to release a Web browser.

These rumours have been fuelled by a number of high-profile hires that Google has made, including various people who worked on Microsoft Internet Explorer, added to the fact that Google Inc. has registered the domain name

A Google spokesman refused to comment on reports surrounding the 'Google browser', but analysts believe they may have some substance.

James Governor, a principal analyst at Red Monk, said that he would be surprised if Google was not working on browser technologies. He does not think it will create a new proprietary browser. Instead, he expects Google to build on Mozilla, the open-source browser.

This potential strategy is supported by the fact that Google hosted the Mozilla Developer Day on its campus last month, where programmers worked on improvements to the browser.

Governor believes that there is plenty of room for innovation in the browser market, in particular as Microsoft has said that it will stop development of standalone versions of IE, and will instead evolve the browser as part of future updates to the Windows OS.

A potential area of innovation for Google could be the incorporation of offline storage into the browser. Google recently increased its offline storage know-how when it hired Adam Bosworth, who developed the Alchemy framework for BEA, a standard that enables offline storage for use with laptops and occasionally connected clients such as PDAs, iPods, and mobile phones.

Allen Weiner, a research director at Gartner, said that offline storage would only be useful if you could seamlessly move the information into productivity tools such as Word, PowerPoint and Microsoft Money. He added that Microsoft was in a better position than Google to develop such technology.

Overall, Weiner said that he did not think it would be a good idea for Google to create a browser as it would distract the company from its main business.

"Google's focus is as a search platform -- an information provider. They are not a software company," said Weiner.

Weiner believes there is no money to be made from a browser unless it offers a very big jump in functionality. He said another alternative browser is not needed and is unlikely to succeed given that other browsers have struggled to gain significant market share from Internet Explorer.

"There are already wonderful alternatives around such as Firefox and Opera, but they have only managed to get a small percentage of market share away from Microsoft."

Opera said it welcomed the news that Google is potentially entering the browser market.

Pal Hvistendahl, vice-president at browser firm Opera Software, said that he wants more competition in the browser space as it makes people aware that there is an alternative to Microsoft.

"Anything that makes people realise there is a choice out there is good," said Hvistendahl.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • Everything Google has done so far has been in accordance with organizing data. Search, email, shopping, blogs, pictures etc... I don't think Google would release a browser purely because it wouldn't fit their mission statement. If they started to sponsor Mozilla however then that would be a different matter.
  • The likely scenario is that they are going to offer rich client functionality, by leveraging the existing XUL technology already baked into the Mozilla based applications.

  • GLinux?

    Google started out as a search company but recently they have changed into a provider of very different services. As Microsoft (MSN) is moving in on Google's search tuff Google needs to react and move in on some of Microsoft's tuff otherwise there will be no Google in the future.

    Creating a browser is either a very brilliant or very desperate strategy and I am not yet sure which one it is - time will tell.

    An interesting idea is if Google teamed up with Apple and made a Linux distribution for the desktop. Bringing a Mac GUI to Linux would be pretty cool and if you then add direct access to all the services Google offers (and will be offering) you have a combatant on the desktop.

    Charge a little for the Mac GUI and suddenly you have a business case for Apple. For Google the potential is to be the deafult on every desktop which is a pretty good business case.

    It would be a foolish political move to alienate the open source fanatics... and Google is not foolish. The media often times lacks a real clue -- they take the easy assumption that they're hiring browser guys to create a browser. No thought or knowledge goes into that assumption.

    Since Google is not going to make any money on a free browser, why reinvent the wheel? This makes it a foolish business assumption on top of a foolish political move.

    But if Google can PARTNER with a pool of fanatical and talented developers, then they have free labor and much more importantly MOMENTUM. Plus these FireFox guys admit to media they will be working for FireFox at the same time. All signs point to partnership.

    While Microsoft has market dominance with IE, there is no way that Google would ever approach them with regards to partnership, as they are a clear competitor in search, albeit a VERY WEAK competitor in terms of the technology. Ironically, Microsoft just released its weak and very late search technology today. However inferior, Microsoft has substantial cash flow and means, and have proven they enjoy taking over ideas which are in their sphere of influence, and having browser market dominance gives them leverage Google wouldn't want. FireFox is the perfect choice because it has momentum and is frankly a superior browser technology. (If you haven't tried FireFox, download and try printing a webpage from both, as one of many examples... not to mention the tabbed format FireFox has, the many extensions, etc)

    THEORY: It is my speculation and theory that Google is working with the FireFox experts to create a "Killer Extension". (replacing the Killer App) Now, what extension could Google charge a small fee for or a small % fee for that would make it ubiquitous and worth their while to pursue? A company with this wide of a scope doesn't look for niche applications, they look to change the world. What does Google do best -- search for text, products, and services, right? Perhaps they could team with FireFox and create a killer extension that had functionality similar to EBAY but was on everyone's browser? I'll coin the term "GBUY" to go along with their recent GMAIL naming convention. Since Google already dominates search, they could then continue leverage their search position to dominate the commerce through which many internet items were purchased. GBUY could provide a service to not only consumers, but also vendors making it easier to setup and transact all type of business over the web. They already have AdWords which accepts payments from Vendors on a per-click basis, and they already have AdSense which delivers payments to millions of website owners. The payment infrastructure is essentially there, and as everyone knows, the search dominance and capabilities continue to expand (see Google TV, Google Images, Froogle, et al).

    Instictively, this might be the clue that shows Google going after such a market and that something is there. You heard it here first.
  • The reason I'm askiing this question here is from what I can see the people that read / present information here know a bit about search engines,software,programing , etc... so , when the 2 guy's started Google over a ping pong game and they were seeking cash and then investment cash what did they promise their investers back , Advertising revenue? also how did they decide what information to put on their search engine first. This is a possible first of many questions I have,as you can tell I'M not any of the above listed occupations but I am going somewhere with this so please don't discount what I'm asking. Thank you for your time.. Tim