Google Turns its Back on Firefox

By Josh Catone

About a month ago, Google dropped StarOffice from the Google Pack, a downloadable package of free Internet and productivity software for Windows users. StarOffice is a desktop office suite based on the open source OpenOffice.org program and distribute by Sun, and we theorized that Google was laying the ground work for a future push to get users to dump their desktop software in favor of Google’s own web-based application offerings.

“If pushing people toward their own suite of tools is what Google is playing it, we expect that there is a possibility that we’ll see Firefox dropped from the Google Pack eventually as well and replaced with Chrome (at least once that browser is out of beta),” we predicted.

That prediction has almost come true. Google removed the beta label from their Chrome web browser last week, and now, they’ve demoted Firefox in the Pack. They haven’t outright removed the web’s #2 browser — which makes sense because the integrated Google Toolbar and their status as the default search engine in Firefox is worth tens of millions of dollars each year — but they have pushed Firefox aside in favor of Chrome.

Above: The default software checked as part of the Google Pack download no longer includes Firefox.

Firefox used to be the default, recommended browser in the Google Pack, but over the weekend, Google-watching blogger Garett Rogers noticed that Google replaced Firefox with Chrome as the default download. Firefox is still technically part of the pack, but it is unchecked by default and its description has been pushed way down the information page.

It makes sense for Google to push people toward Chrome because it is built specifically for running web applications. The more people using Chrome, the better the user experience for those people running Google brand web applications like Gmail, Reader, Docs and Spreadsheets, and others.

As we’ve noted, Chrome is an important part of Google’s three-pronged Web OS strategy. Along with Gears (offline data store) and Native Client (local CPU resources for web apps), Chrome gives Google a compelling platform for the delivery of web applications. Google needs to push more people onto Chrome in order to legitimately have a shot at winning the Web OS war that is brewing between them and companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and to a lesser extent Facebook.

  • Anonymous

    Well done, Sherlock!

  • Benjamin Reid

    *Slow clap* Well done.

  • http://www.clearwind.nl peach

    how dare they.. promoting their own projects!

  • MRoderick


    Sensationalist headings :-(

    While Google might have re-arranged things in the Pack, it’s hardly worthy of such a headline, as long as Google is still a multi-million dollar sponsor of Mozilla Foundation.

  • http://www.webglossary.co.uk blueclock

    I think we’ll start to see the introduction of “Create Document”, “Create Speadsheet” buttons in Chrome very soon.

  • raja Sekharan

    Now who didn’t see that coming?

  • inspector

    It’s all about third-party searches. They don’t want to pay Mozilla the millions it’s been paying for referral searches. It’s all about the Benjamins.

  • Mr. I

    What next, will we see same interface problems as we see in Opera when using Google Services. I already hate their “biasedness” and have been using alternatives for their services. I use Offline Blog Editor for posting on Blogger, Mail Client for e-mails and so on!

  • pippo

    Let’s discuss this OpenEdge project by Google…

    The title as a hint on the topic:

    Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web

  • Jonas

    Oh god, outrageous!

  • http://www.myburg.com cajebo

    Sensationalist headings :-(

    While Google might have re-arranged things in the Pack, it’s hardly worthy of such a headline, as long as Google is still a multi-million dollar sponsor of Mozilla Foundation.

    Not to mention that there is one, or two– heck, maybe even a dozen or so Mac OS users for which Chrome is but something shiny.

  • SimonPhoto

    As long as they keep Chromium as F/OSS, I’m happy with whatever they do.

  • http://www.flywalk.co.uk themightystephen

    There was no need for the sarcasm in some of the comments above.

  • Tarh

    As this is the start of the move toward cloud computing, this truly is a disaster (that wasn’t sarcasm).

  • Jon

    Google is the new Microsoft. They believe whatever they do is the best thing and won’t consider what other think at all.

  • http://www.newbreedjesusfreaks.com/ mcdanielnc89

    I will not use Google as a default browser. I will stick with Mozilla. I don’t rightfully like the itnerface of chrome

  • http://www.ewriting.pamil-visions.com/ Mihaela Lica

    I was expecting this, Josh – too bad we didn’t write some “predictions” when Google came to market with its new browser. It makes sense on the long term, although I think they are a bit rushing to ditch something that helped them spread the toolbar before. We know that Google knows no mercy when its interests are the game. This is not the first example of Google bad behavior. See SearchWiki (doesn’t the name remind you of something else?)

    Unfortunately for FF their 3 release is really mediocre and many users, including myself, contemplate switching to something else. I vote for flock. :)

  • Tamer

    Just A Pace .. it’s still the first version . I tried it . it’s really amazing but still not stable and has many bugs and errors . I think it takes a little bit of time for chrome to be on the surface

  • Hierophant

    So this decision affects what 20-30 people who download the Google Pack every year?

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Hierophant: Actually, according to Compete, the Google Pack site gets about 1.5 million unique visitors per month. And I generally find that Compete tends to under count.

    That might be a fairly small number of users in the grand scheme of things, but the point is really more about the trend that seems to be developing at Google. They appear to be beginning to push away open source projects they’ve supported in the past in favor of promoting their own (not always open source) products.

    You can make of that what you will, of course.

  • http://ian.sundermedia.com TheLunchBox

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Google is seeing a downturn on ad revenue in the current economy and trying to find ways to boost numbers. Maybe if they have some high profile wins they will see an up turn in AdWords.

  • Johnny

    Meh. They need to get the Linux people on board.

  • Michael

    Don’t care because I love every product Google has ever put out.

  • Anonymous

    promote chrome

  • Anonymous

    I prefer Google Chrome over Firefox by a long shot.

  • Hierophant

    @Hierophant: Actually, according to Compete, the Google Pack site gets about 1.5 million unique visitors per month. And I generally find that Compete tends to under count.

    Visits do not equal downloads though. I visit the Google Pack site at least once a month but have never downloaded it. Either I have the products in it that I want already (Skype, Adobe Reader, Firefox, Norton) or have found what I consider superior counterparts (MS Office vs. OpenOffice or GoogleDocs and Flickr vs. Picasa). Or the offering just doesn’t fit a need like Google Earth, Google Talk, and Google Screensaver.

  • Daniel newns

    we all knew it would come after chrome had established itself. i must say i do prefer chrome over firefox especially of late, as my firefox seems to crash more often than windows and thats saying something!!!

  • Google Pack Abstainer

    No wonder why I’ve never installed Google Pack. This is all the more ammunition why to stay that way.

  • 46Bit

    Who on earth actually likes Google Toolbar? It’s useless – clunks up & slows down your browser, provides a second search box when unless you’re using an old browser you already have one.

    It’s “ad-blocking” is junk as well, useless on most modern sites with pop-up type ads!

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