How Chrome May Really Start to Pull Users from Firefox

I saw the news that the social browser, Flock, had switched its base from Firefox to Chrome but didn’t really feel the need to comment. I never tried Flock, never seeing the appeal. If a user wants to distance themselves that far from the underlying browser, I expect they care little what exactly is under the hood.

Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet’s Open Source blog has a view that gives me pause, being a diehard Firefox fan. The idea is that Google, much more strongly motivated to win users, is and will be entering into exclusive arrangements with extension developers to hack for Chrome and not Firefox. Blankenhorn sees Google’s imperative as a commercial concern driving this sort of gambit at the expense of Mozilla.

My concern isn’t based on Firefox losing to Chrome. Either browser is a huge win for open standards, improved security and privacy, and any number of other issues that Microsoft has inflicted on the vast majority of users online. Mozilla doesn’t have to out compete anyone, being at its heart an open source project. Sure the foundation has a certain economic logic to it that must be satisfied by Firefox itself merely needs to subsist.

Blankenhorn’s view is lopsided, only looking at the traditional zero sum game of the firm and the market. As long as Chrome doesn’t go the way of Internet Explorer and start doing harms to the web, I only care that Firefox continue in some form as an active project. If we extend his logic to Safari, which now supports 3rd party extensions, that would concern me. Although Apple’s monomaniacal control of which extensions get approval is probably a self limiting situation with regards to using them to lever users away from the other browsers.

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