Once Extensions Arrive on Chrome, Firefox Should Worry

By Josh Catone
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Yesterday, CNET dug up a document from Google that outlines where the company plans to go in terms of extensions for their Chrome web browser. Though the document doesn’t offer any specific time line regarding when extensions are coming, it does outline a number of use cases and specific extensions that Google would like to support.

  • Bookmarking/navigation tools: Delicious Toolbar, Stumbleupon, web-based history, new tab page clipboard accelerators
  • Content enhancements: Skype extension (clickable phone numbers), RealPlayer extension (save video), Autolink (generic microformat data – addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Content filtering: Adblock, Flashblock, Privacy control, Parental control
  • Download helpers: video helpers, download accelerators, DownThemAll, FlashGot
  • Features: ForecastFox, FoxyTunes, Web Of Trust, GooglePreview, BugMeNot

Google says that it realizes that Chromium, the open source project that backs Chrome, “can’t be everything to all people,” which is why extensions will be important. Google aims with Chrome to have an extension system that rivals the one implemented by Mozilla with Firefox. “We should start by building the infrastructure for an extension system that can support different types of extensibility,” says the document. “The system should be able to support an open-ended list of APIs over time, such as toolbars, sidebars, content scripts (for Greasemonkey-like functionality), and content filtering (for parental filters, malware filters, or adblock-like functionality).”

Though Chrome has seen an uptick to about 1% browser market share over the past month due to an occasional homepage link on Google.com, according to Net Applications, many early adopters remain hesitant to switch from Firefox. The reason we hear most often is indeed that Chrome lacks extensions, and as CNET points out an extensions system is the top requested feature by far on the Chromium project’s issue tracker.

Just take a look at some sample comments from our previous Chrome coverage on SitePoint:

“I like Chrome … it’s fast and opens fast too. However … I post this comment in Firefox. For me it’s simple … no Foxmarks, web dev toolbar and several other add-ons.” — Greg

“I spent a bit of today in Chrome and it is pretty nice. Very quick and super clean UI. It shows how slow some sites really are. I agree […] about the web dev toolbar. I use that and Firebug every time I fire up the browser.” — awasson

“I still am not going to convert due to the lack of support for add-ons – which I use every day. I mean, I opened up chrome this morning, to send a screenshot to someone, and where was my screen-grab….oh thats right this is Chrome :-(. If they managed to support the FF add-ons in Chrome, then yes, they could well get rid of FF, and then start converting the IE users.” — the moose

Pulling mainstream users away from Internet Explorer will be as difficult and slow a process for Google as it has been for Mozilla. The best users to target at the outset are the early adopters — or in this case, people already using alternative browsers like Firefox and Opera. These people generally rely on browser extensions (such as Firebug and AdBlock), which Chrome will need to compete.

Once Google adds the planned extension framework to the Chromium project, I think we can expect to see its market share jump considerably. It won’t overtake Firefox overnight, but it will become a fairly major minor player — by which I mean: watch out Firefox, Opera, and Safari.

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  • chrelad


  • Carl – Imagemoo.com

    Yes definitely, I only refuse to use Chrome due to the lack of plugins. I guess in the future once they start to add these features (only a matter of a small amount of time) then I will be looking at Chrome for the long term.

    Information post, great.

    – Carl

  • Carcarlo

    It seems strange to me that Google will develop an AdBlock extension while it’s main business if web advertising. I use that addon on Firefox but I don’t filter all ads, just few disturbing ones. I don’t filter Adsense, but people who rely on subscribed filters do. Will Chrome let user filter Adsense?

    By the way, I’ll continue to use Firefox (and Opera) because we don’t need a lesser-evil corporation to fight Microsoft monopoly, and also because they are two excellent browsers.

  • Tarh

    As a developer, this is worthless unless Chrome takes market share away from the Internet Explorer family, which the release of plugin support most likely will not help. Moving market share between rendering engines which are comparable in standards compliance doesn’t help, hence why this is largely uninteresting.
    As a user, I’m appalled by Google’s complete lack of privacy awareness with Chrome. For that reason alone, I’ll never install Chrome on any of my systems (although I have it installed in a VM that reverts itself upon shutdown in order to do testing). Plugins won’t help the matter unless they are capable of removing the search functionality of the awesomebar rip-off, along with providing other privacy-critical functions. I doubt this will be possible, though, since that would mean that the evil Google empire would lose control over some of the world’s information!

  • Jarryd

    I heard a while ago (not sure how true this is) that Chrome had a couple of security issues? Particularly with the Omnibar?

    I agree with your last paragraph there, I will still stay true to Firefox and Opera because they are very nice browsers (even if Firefox does hog a heckload of memory :P).

  • F.Danials

    Why change? – If it isn’t broken, then why fix it.
    It will be a long time before I am persuaded to convert to Chrome from FireFox.

    I like Mozilla’s style.

    Unless Google can think of many ways to make Chrome more unique that any other browser, besides adding independent tab processes, I sorry to say I won’t be changing anytime soon.

    There are already fantastic web browsers out there, so why reinvent the same thing. Fine it belongs to Google, but there aren’t any other benefits of changing as far as I can see.

  • I dunno I really like using chrome, better than firefox. but chrome messes up alot, for example I was trying to customize a gift on thingsrembered and couldn’t in chrome, I had to open up forefox to do it. I think these issues would need to be fixed first.

  • amdjohn

    I really don’t get this. Why on hearth would someone really want to install chrome on their computer.
    We are always complaining about about MS but Google(just hiding behind open source).
    We are giving them too much power and in no time we won’t have any privacy left.

    I rather use Firefox and opera knowing that I almost have complete control over my privacy.

  • tdolsen

    And why aren’t anyone raising any complaints about Chromes ugly look. It’s terrifying!

  • Anonymous

    Unless they make Chrome cross platfrom I won’t (I can’t) install it

  • Nachenko

    Chrome install a service named “googleUpdate”, which loads on boot and it’s running in the background.

    This, alone, is a very good reason to avoid installing Chrome. What the … where Google dudes thinking about?

  • JohnnyD

    I totally disagree for the last poster. Chrome looks nice with me, I am using vista and those two work perfect together. And, even more important, let’s not forget Chrome is still a beta-version. We all know what it means. Give them a chance to recreate a fine and quick browser, with all the safety we need. It is only a matter of time till it works perfectly, including our privacy wishes.

  • I think Chromes look is fine, and when they have Firebug for it I will switch. It loads Javascript 2x as fast as Firefox but there are still some things that need to be turned around like development issues.

  • If they can introduce extensions and avoid taking an hour to start up like FF then I’m there. In fact I’m already there for general browsing. Development no but in time maybe.

  • Surrealist

    I liked Chrome, but even if it supports the main Fox extensions I’ll be reluctant to give up Ubiquity. A feature like that in chrome – and RSS feed support – would be wonderful.

  • Gusjun

    I love to use Chrome even is still Beta version rather than using Firefox :D

  • roosevelt

    I don’t like the name Chrome, Firefox sounds better and cool.

    If chrome does the same thing as Firefox, there’s no point of switching.

    Give me something that says, aha, this is cool ;)

  • cypher

    i totally agree