Rival browsers are complaining about the monopolistic practices of Google’s Chrome browser. It is being labeled as spyware by the competitors. A similar case is being reported by a developer whose browser was stalled by the company.
What did Google do to the rival browser?
Samuel Maddock built a browser based on the open-source version of Google’s Chrome browser- Chromium. To make the creation work, he needed authentication with another Google product called Widevine. This tool is heled to authenticate users and prevent video piracy.
The company didn’t respond to his emails for four months. After sending them 10 emails, he just got a one-line reply that he can’t use the software. Using the secure streaming tool would have helped his project go online, but Google decided to withhold access to Widevine, which stumped Maddock’s plans to create a new browser.
He called Google a “gatekeeper” and noted that that the company decided which projects can work. If they decided otherwise, the project is dead. Though Maddock was working on a small project, his experience suggests that Google has dominance on the browser market and its underlying technology. This gives the company undue control over the internet and the ways to access it.
Why is Chrome important for Google?
Chrome is one of the essential products in Google’s suite and one of the most successful as well. Even though the EU has fined the company for breaking antitrust laws for online search, mobile operating systems, and display advertising, Chrome continues its not-so-white hat practices. The product was launched in 2008 and has captured over 63% of the browser market. It is available on 70% of desktop computers, according to StatCounter report. Mozilla’s Firefox browser pales easily in comparison.
Chrome uses open web standards and offers a faster and highly customizable browsing experience. Its dominance can be proved by the fact that most major browsers are built on the Chromium code base maintained by Google. Even Opera, an indie browser, chose Chromium’s code in 2013. Microsoft is also expected to make a shift this year.
This means that Chrome’s rivals are depending on Google to keep their software updated. A majority of contributors to the code are Google employees, and a small circle of Google employees settles disagreements and disputes.
The company’s products like YouTube, Gmail and Docs often don’t work on other browsers, leaving developers frustrated. Google has even specifically targeted Mozilla Firefox by updating Docs and other apps constantly so that they are no longer compatible with the browser. At a time like this, Google may have to rethink its role in the market.