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> Chrome's appeal was primarily technical

Among the tech crowd, probably. For the remaining 99.99% of users, absolutely not. Chrome's appeal came from the pervasive advertisement campaigns, from the bundling strategy with other pieces of software, for the pre-installation on new computers or from the ads on Google SEarch homepage.




Chrome's main appeal was that it was much faster than firefox and IE. At everything. I had no technical knowledge when chrome came out, was using firefox, tried chrome, never looked back.

It's not really possible to separate out the effects of advertising from the effects of the product actually being better. Maybe I installed chrome because I saw an ad, but I stopped using firefox because it was clear that chrome was better. The fact that you're emphasizing ads over the very real performance advantages just means you've got an axe to grind.


I've had to use both on and off for years.

My patience with software is small but I had few issues with Firefox except on Google properties.

Not saying your experience didn't happen but it doesn't match mine.

I even used to be a Google fan and without being able to pinpoint a date I have memories of trying (and failing to) start using Chrome as my default browser at least once.

So I agree with GP and personally think the real story is more that Chrome:

- had massive marketing budgets and misleading campaigns

- won a number of benchmarks (but nothing to write home about on my Linux or Windows boxes)

- sometime between 2009 and now web developers forgot what we fought for when we fought against IE until 2009: that sites should work in all mainstream browsers. We didn't fight so much to kill IE as to let everybody else live.

- Suddenly sites started showing up that only worked in Chrome. Every new browser including modern versions of IE is more capable than anything we had back then and we also have polyfills and whatnot and so if someone cannot be bothered to do basic testing in more than one browser then I don't know what.

- I cannot say that Google was the worst but they certainly have had their "weird issues that doesn't affect Chrome". And I cannot say they did it on purpose and everyone is innocent until proven guilty but let me say that for a company that almost prints their own money their QA departement might have been slightly understaffed :-P


Until the Firefox quantum update, the reason a lot of sites only worked in Chrome, was that it was the only browser with kind of decentish performance.


This is plain wrong.

1. Firefox worked very well, thank you and I'm no natural saint when it comes to patience with software.

2. I am frontend (and backend) developer so I should know the difference between using bleeding edge features that doesn't exist in all browsers yet, non standard quirks that developers abuse, and performance problems.


Very well is relative. Chrome is better, even now, from a feature and performance perspective, but the tradeoff has become acceptable for a sense of privacy.

That’s my opinion anyway.


Won't argue about the performance, you might very well be right and I cannot prove anything.

Feel free to expand on what features you still miss in Firefox that exists in Chrome though.

Looking from the other side Chromes extension API looks like a toy compared to Firefox, even after Mozilla "nerfed" it. (And ours is improving while Chrome is actively trying to remove even some of the most used features from theirs.)


My issue with Firefox is that it's just slower. I've read the articles showing that the rendering engine is just as fast or faster, and I don't doubt it, but it definitely feels a lot slower in real-life tasks with dozens of tabs and windows, constantly switching, opening, closing. I know Chrome "fakes" it's speediness using tricks, but I wish Firefox did the same.


I don't know who downvoted you but here's my upvote. Your experience is as valid as mine.

I wish we could be honest about things like you && at the same time behave like grown ups.

Yes: I've been arguing against a couple of Chrome fans here but hopefully only when they're plain wrong or are presenting their personal ideas as truisms without any evidence :-)


Rather Electrolysis. Switched it on when it was not default yet, and happy with it. That killed the performance plus for Chrome (Chromium at least), but either way I was never satisfied enough with Chromium.


While Chrome was definitely very good, it did benefit from a huge worldwide marketing campaign, even without counting omnipresent ads on Google properties, or tech evangelism.

All this at a time when Mozilla was spending lots of time trying to come up with a good Firefox 4.0, and was about to bet the farm on Firefox OS (and lose).


I've used firefox and never bothered with chrome as a daily driver. The speed issue is entirely marketing driven. Nobody cares about a few tenths of a second of load times until the ads were shoving stats down our throats that chrome was so much faster

Firefox is and has always been perfectly adequate, except maybe for a few html5 canvas type apps.


No one is quite the overstatement, and I suspect it is completely wrong. Anecdotally, I and several people I know switched to Chrome when it came out due to it's blazing speed.

It would seem that was the case for many more people, see for example for a fairly old article: https://www.cnet.com/news/why-i-switched-from-firefox-to-chr...

Of course, many were using plugins with Firefox which contributed to the speed advantage of Chrome. But milliseconds matter, even program startup time.


It wasn’t entirely market driven. Chrome was collectively faster, smoother and tab crashes were isolated which was critical back then. My dad was firmly middle aged when it came out and was very attached to Firefox. After a few debates we did some very unscientific desktop-to-page render comparisons as well as loading some pretty js heavy sites and chrome beat Firefox handily.

He still took a while to come around and ultimately it was the tab isolation that convinced him. Tabs were a critical component to how he did research and a few crashes were all it took.


Sounds like your Dad would not have switched without your advocacy.


It was less about advocacy and more about arguing with him. I was a teenager at the time eager to best him in any argument I could.


True as that may be, we're arguing that you would not have argued it had Chrome not been advertised the way it was.


Firefox was incredibly slow by that time. It was having maintainability problems for a few years, with unfixed memory leaks, deadlocks and core instabilities. Mozilla had a large ongoing effort for fixing those things, but it took some time until they got results.

Javascript heavy sites were also very slow on every browser, except for Chrome that invested in a good JS interpreter.


back then, for me, there was a massive qualitative difference between chrome and the rest. i didn't have any particular preference, but chrome just was a far superior user experience.


> The fact that you're emphasizing ads over the very real performance advantages just means you've got an axe to grind.

Alternatively, it could mean that, like me, they had NoScript installed when Chrome came out[0], making Firefox genuinely faster by dint of brute do-less-stuff-ism.

0: or when we heard about it anyway.


I'm not sure why so many HN posters feel the need to boast about not executing JavaScript.

All that means is that you've opted out of the web that the rest of the world is using. Good for you. But people who have disabled JS make up such a small porportion of web users (~.2% of pageviews) that your experience is pretty much irrelevant to the question of general browser trends.

I'd also bet that Chrome was faster at painting pages than Firefox, so it wasn't just a JS engine advantge.


> I'd also bet that Chrome was faster at painting pages than Firefox, so it wasn't just a JS engine advantge.

That may very well have been true, but if Chrome spends 10 cycles rendering the page and 100 cycles executing malware, and Firefox spends 20 cycles rendering the page and zero cycles executing malware, Chrome still loses despite being being twice as fast at the only thing that matters.


I surmise it is because HN attracts a higher percentage of critical thinkers than many other boards. A startling amount of JS on the web falls into the following categories: 1) Advertisement 2) Tracking 3) Useless animation I don't care for any of those things. I generally prefer simple html pages that load <1 second, take very few resources, do not track any information about me, and don't use any mouse-reactive animations while I'm trying to get work done.


It's more likely that most of the "critical thinkers" you speak of write JavaScript for money everyday. Even on HN the amount of JS blockers is tiny but it seems higher because they always have to mention they block JS.


So is "I block JS" the new "I don't own a TV"?


FWIW, I also don't use a TV[0]; I just don't bring it up often because it's rarely relevant. I brought up javascript because javascript is usualy the reason why <any webbrowser that executes javascript> is slower than <any webbrowser that doesn't executes javascript>. See "do less stuff".

0: unless you count monitors as TVs, or disassembly-for-parts as use.


I also don't own a TV. And as soon as I go vegan, I'll gain superpowers and ascend into the Mothership, where I can hang out with Tom Cruise and Ronny Hubbard!


Compare firefox or Opera market progression back in IE heydays to chrome progression when it came out.

Marketing and the antitrust against MS are the difference.


> The fact that you're emphasizing ads over the very real performance advantages just means you've got an axe to grind.

No, it means I have a mother, siblings, friends, colleagues, ... that understand next to nothing to computers and would probably not even notice if I switched them from Chrome to Edge. And if any of them use Chrome, it is definitely not out of a conscious choice.

With all due respect, the single fact that you are commenting here on HN makes you more tech-literate than an overwhelming majority of the Web users. For a simple experiment, got to see your mom/dad, and just ask them what browser they are using, and why. IME, in every case, they will tell you they use ‶Google″, because they are not even necessarily aware of the whole browser concept, just accessing ‶The Internet″ – and I say it without any contempt; I'd be unable to do the tenth of what they are able to do in other fields.

Once again, I'm not saying that Chrome had/has not technical advantages; I'm saying that they were not decisive in making people switch.


IIRC, it was faster than Firefox 3 specifically, which caused many FF users to migrate. Something happened between FF2 and FF3, since the latter appeared noticeably slower.


YES! I remember Firefox 2 being so much faster than 3 that I kept using it until most websites started to break. Then I switched to Chrome.


> Maybe I installed chrome because I saw an ad

Or maybe you did because it was drive-by installed with other software, like common malware, something Google paid millions for.

Imagine if MS did anything similar with any of their products. There would be no end to the outrage.


For me it was a nice UX that kept me on chrome... the performance was really nice too. There was some chrome in IE extension iirc that I pushed for around 2010, as one of our SPA applications tended to really bloat in IE7-8, and worked fine in chrome and ff. (Note this was an actual application, not a website)


Heh, that just shows how wide chasms can be. I find Chrome's UX to be horrible (and unfixable), and it's why I never adopted it.

Firefox's has been horrible for a long time, but at least (until they dropped the old extension system) it was possible to fix it.


I spent years stridently recommending Chrome to non-technical users, because it was by far the fastest and most secure browser available.

Google's primary objective for Chrome and Android was simply to get people to use the internet more, on the (entirely reasonable) assumption that they'd probably use Google and they would see a lot of AdSense units. They invested heavily in getting better software into the hands of as many users as possible. Of course they harvest a whole bunch of user data, but dragging up the quality of the browsing experience was a far bigger factor IMO.

Would Edge exist if Chrome had never happened? Would Firefox have a fast JS engine and proper sandboxing? What would the non-Apple smartphone market look like without Android? Whether you like Google's business practices or not, they've massively increased our expectations of browser software, in the same way that Starbucks created a world where you can buy a half-decent cappuccino in McDonalds.


>Google's primary objective for Chrome and Android was simply to get people to use the internet more, on the (entirely reasonable) assumption that they'd probably use Google and they would see a lot of AdSense units.

Google paid Apple 12 billion dollars last year to be the default search engine in Safari and another half billion to Firefox for the same. Google's primary objectives with Chrome was to lower that amount and to guard their monopoly on search.


It's very hard for me to consider Chrome as a "most secure" browser. But I suppose it depends on what you do and don't consider security threats.


Or the fact that in the beginning it was just blazing fast and very hassle-free (single click installer, automatic updates, no "IE toolbar hell").


Good point. Auto-updates were a groundbreaking feature (at least in browsers) that most people have largely forgotten about.


I'd also add that 2008 Google was trusted by the public a lot more than 2019 Google.


> by the public

by technical users

I imagine the general public still trusts them all the same or maybe even more.


I think with the recent focus of privacy by the media, users are beginning to trust Google less. Maybe not enough to stop using their services, but enough to at least question what Google might be doing with their data.


This stuff has been on the front pages of mainstream media for long enough. Ask your non-tech acquaintances what they think about Google, Facebook etc - you might be surprised.


In general, they don't care. They care about the conveniences forsaking privacy brings. Haven't talked to everyone on this topic, though. So who knows, there might be some.


Technical users are multiplicators though.


multiplicators? You mean because we advocate with those near us? Normal users also advocate in favor of products based on features which are sometimes based on forsaking privacy.


Reads to me a descending attitude towards normal users.

I was a non technical users when chrome come out. I was studying civil engineering then in college. I certainly like Google as a symbol of freedom and technology superiority in the more pure sense than msft.


Not condescending (if that's what you mean), it's more of an attitude of hopelessness. After all, it will be "normal" users that control where the market goes.


>For the remaining 99.99% of users, absolutely not. Chrome's appeal came from...

Bingo! Thank you for pointing this out. For those younger readers, Chrome's penetration was forceful and uninvited. A browser add-on/search hijacker/ persistant spyware known as Google Toolbar was it's predecessor project from Google. It was an epidemic across the PC landscape for half a decade and all those infected machines became Chromes initial foothold. There's plenty of positives from the project, but for Chrome to achieve browser monopoly status, user consent sure did seem to get sacrificed.


I beg to disagree. Chrome was also extremely lean, but very well thought out.

- a bit unrelated but installer was a shim, ~downloading it took 3 seconds and 500kB

- Few buttons

- Transient status bar

- Transient download widget

- Good ergonomics (easy to close tabs in rapid successions without moving your mouse, the next one would fall in place)

- Clear preference panel

- Maybe later: pdf support and print dialog


I'm not pretending it was not well thought; I'm merely saying its technical advantages were not the main drive behind its huge adoption rate.

With all due respect, none of the pluses you mentioned would be a reason for a random, tech-illiterate, using-a-computer-for-FB person to install Chrome.


You're right, there's also a bootstrap thing, they couldn't know before installing. The only thing they'd know would be "it's by Google". But all the point listed above were strong factors for newbs too. They could easily discard it if it was an annoyance I believe.


For the remaining users I reckon tech-literate family members set it as their search engine for them. I certainly switched over A LOT of people this way.


I switched to chrome before I became technically literate, because it seemed a lot faster and less prone to breaking. I couldn't describe why, but the effect was felt.

Now, I still struggle to move to firefox as I'm on a retina MBP, where firefox riles up my cpu and drains my battery.


Yup. I'm using Firefox on macOS as well and suffering from the same bug. If you use your Macbook with the resolution set to 'scaled' Firefox absolutely murders your battery. On top of that there's a bug where H264 video doesn't get properly accelerated. Both these bugs have been in Firefox at least since FF62. Both have alternatingly been marked 'priority 2' or 'fix-optional' which is absolutely baffling to me considering how crucial battery life is in today's portable world. I've even gone into the Firefox IRC multiple times where the fix has been promised to be in a 'point release' since FF63..

I get that they have limited resources but it makes getting people to switch (and stay) on Firefox increasingly hard if it cuts battery life of their laptop nearly in half.


It isn't a bug; it's the fact that Firefox uses a transparent window and doesn't yet use Core Animation, which offloads scrolling to the window server. Switching to CA involves heavy lifting inside the compositor and is not an easy task. My planeshift crate does some of the work needed to make the WebRender path use Core Animation.

In the meantime, setting gfx.compositor.glcontext.opaque to true in about:config helps battery life significantly, at the cost of rounded corners and vibrancy.


I'm curious (genuine curiosity, not meant sarcastic), why is Firefox only now switching to CoreAnimation? AFAIK CoreAnimation has been around since Leopard which makes it nearly 12 year old, which is positively ancient in the tech world.

Also, coincidentally, do you know what exactly causes the H264 problem on macOS? I've tried to track it down in bugzilla to no success, but I am 100% sure it is a bug. The energy impact for playing a H264 YouTube video in Safari has an energy impact of ~25. Firefox used to be ~60, but these days its ~180 (!)

> In the meantime, setting gfx.compositor.glcontext.opaque to true in about:config helps battery life significantly, at the cost of rounded corners and vibrancy.

Thanks for this! :)


> I'm curious (genuine curiosity, not meant sarcastic), why is Firefox only now switching to CoreAnimation? AFAIK CoreAnimation has been around since Leopard which makes it nearly 12 year old, which is positively ancient in the tech world.

I think CA was only moved to the window server relatively recently. Before then, my understanding is that it simply used OpenGL in-process, so it had no energy advantages over Firefox's built-in compositor. There was also a long time when the APIs to host CA content in the window server were private APIs and only Safari could use them.

> Also, coincidentally, do you know what exactly causes the H264 problem on macOS?

I believe, but am not sure, that H.264 is decoded in software in Firefox but is decoded in hardware in Safari.


Thanks for clearing up the CA stuff

> I believe, but am not sure, that H.264 is decoded in software in Firefox but is decoded in hardware in Safari.

I am 100% certain it is (was?) on Firefox as well, because it would have been impossible to hit the aforementioned 60 energy impact without hardware acceleration. This is done through VideoToolBox, but that might have changed.


Unless the intended behaviour is to cut battery life in half then yes it's a bug. Just because it's hard to fix doesn't mean it's not a bug.


I think Chrome's design appeal is obvious just from looking at a screenshot of Chrome and Firefox in 2008: https://imgur.com/a/uyBcxI0.

Firefox and Edge eventually adopted Chrome's design choices to have more content area, no "File, Edit, View" menu bar and an integrated search and address bar. But for years Chrome was ahead.


This. The most refreshing thing I felt when Chrome came out in 2008 was that it let me treat a webpage as an application _per se_, instead of a document being opened by an application (i.e. the browser).


Agreed, the google homepage wouldn't shut up about it.


> Among the tech crowd, probably. For the remaining 99.99% of users, absolutely not.

Guess who sets up the computers for the remaining 99.99%? If you seduce the tech crowd, you also get the other users.




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