My Mac is graced with half a dozen browsers and, frankly, they’re all pretty good. Different. But good. iPhone and iPad have at least as many browsers, and I would offer the same conclusion (mostly because they’re all based on Safari). They’re all pretty good.
That’s the problem.
Differentiation is a key component of product marketing. If your new product aims to knock off the market leader’s product, your’s must be notably better and priced the same or lower. Otherwise, what’s the incentive to switch? Likewise, if your new product goes against an industry leader, but carries mostly the same features and benefits, then the price tag must be substantially lower just to get some comparison time and provide an incentive to switch.
Browsers are free. At least, most of them. Browsers, circa 2017, do mostly the same thing. They display websites in tabs, come with bookmarks, and maybe even sync up with similarly branded browsers on other platforms (as does Safari, Chrome, Firefox, et al).
The market has spoken. The clear winners in the browser wars are, in approximate order:
- Google’s Chrome
- Apple’s Safari
- Something by Microsoft
- Mozilla’s Firefox
That’s it. There may be dozens of other free browsers on the market, perhaps a few with a nominal price tag and some exclusive features, but those are the winners; the most used, the most popular.
What about Opera?
Actually, Opera has been around for a few decades, has a few hundred million users, but not much marketshare. These days it’s owned by a Chinese company and based on Chromium, which is the basis for Google’s Chrome. I like the latest Mac version of Opera. It comes with a built-in VPN and ad blocker, both of which work quite well.
I worry about Chinese ownership, though. The Chinese government cannot be too happy about a local browser with a built-in VPN that can (maybe) access websites anywhere else in the world.
That brings me to the problem with browsers.
I keep and manage multiple browsers because they each do something a little different. All are fast, all display websites accurately (at least, the ones I care about), all seem secure, and each has the basic features we need; bookmarks, HTTPS, tabs, etc.
There is no single browser that does everything, and there are enough browser users on Windows and Mac, Android and iOS, or Linux, that even small marketshare, like Opera at barely a couple of percent worldwide, can have hundreds of millions of users.
Most people don’t use multiple browsers, but many of us do, and that’s the problem– managing four or five different browsers, keeping them up to date, and keeping myself up to date on their features, takes time and effort and I’m not getting any younger.
Elizabeth Larkin says you should throw out clothing that hasn’t been used in a year, or discard tools that haven’t been used in a year. I understand the sentiment but the years are going by much faster these days and I honestly believe there may come a day, sooner than expected, that I’ll fit those slacks, use that circular saw, and need a browser I deleted all to recently.
First world problem, huh?
I have half a dozen browsers, use two at most, and one of the other four maybe once or twice a year. Browsers are like old clothes.