The Google Browser

posted by Jason Kottke Aug 24, 2004

Last summer, Anil Dash suggested that it would be a good move for Google to develop a Google browser based on Mozilla. Give that kid a gold star because it looks more than plausible. Mozilla Developer Day 2004 was recently held at the Google Campus. Google is investing heavily in JavaScript-powered desktop-like web apps like Gmail and Blogger (the posting inferface is now WYSIWYG). Google could use their JavaScript expertise (in the form of Gmail ubercoder Chris Wetherell) to build Mozilla applications. Built-in blogging tools. Built-in Gmail tools. Built-in search tools. A search pane that watches what you're browsing and suggests related pages and search queries or watches what you're blogging and suggests related pages, news items, or emails you've written. Google Toolbar++. You get the idea.

Mozilla is currently getting some good press due to Microsoft's continuing troubles with their browser and the uptick in usage compared to IE is encouraging. But it's nothing compared to what could happen if Google decides to release a Mozilla-based browser. A Google Browser would give the Mozilla platform instant credibility and would be a big hit. The peerless Google brand & reputation and their huge reach are the keys here. Mom and Dad know about Google...if Google offered a browser that was as powerful and easy to use as their search engine and didn't scum up their system, they'd download it. IT departments wanting to switch away from IE would have some formidable firepower when pitching to upper management..."Mozilla? What? Oh, it's Google? Go for it!" Get good reasons in front of enough Google users and millions would switch from IE.

A Google Browser is a no-brainer for them and they have to be thinking about it. It's been obvious for awhile now that Google isn't a search company, nor are they an advertising company, despite what the experts have to say. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but I'm convinced they're building an operating system (of sorts) from which they will dispense all sorts of applications and data (as well as allow other people/companies to do the same in this fashion). What we could see is the next generation of office suite. Not Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook of Microsoft's Office or iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, iTunes, and Garageband of Apple's iLife suite, but Google search, Gmail, Google Browser, Blogger, and perhaps even GIM. It'll be interesting to watch whether this happens or not.

Update: John Rhodes floated the idea of a Google Browser back in September 2001.