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Browsers, Monopolies, and Bears. Oh My!

Google has long had an old motto of "Don't be evil", but over time we have seen that disappear to be replaced it with what amounts to "Do the right thing." As Fast Company says: "It's subtle shifts like that one that can make a huge difference." I would have thought this is a step up. (Ref: Google Code of conduct April 21 2018 and May 4 2018.

I would dearly love to believe that Google is on the up and up, as I decided some time ago to throw my weight behind Google, generally speaking. However, being a disenfranchised member of a few now dead Google products, I find it all a bit bitter.

And then there is this: Johnathan Nightingale (former Mozilla G.M.) has revealed a series of "oops after oops" that he says were Google systematically sabotaging Firefox – intentionally even – to boost the adoption of Chrome. (Ref: https://archive.is/tgIH9)

Nightingale said, "When Chrome launched things got complicated, but not in the way you might expect. They had a competing product now, but they didn't cut ties, break our search deal - nothing like that. In fact, the story we kept hearing was, 'We're on the same side. We want the same things'."

"Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. Gmail & [Google] Docs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as 'incompatible'," he said.

"All of this is stuff you're allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we'd say 'hey what gives?' And every time, they'd say, 'oops. That was accidental. We'll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks.'

Nightingale believes that there were so many of these oopses, that it could have numbered in the hundreds. And of course while they were chasing these oopses down; they lost users, and lost time on developing Firefox. "We got outfoxed for a while and by the time we started calling it what it was, a lot of damage had been done," Nightingale said.

Which leads me to where my daily reading started. Jon von Tetzchner from Vivaldi, a great browser, blogged in 2017 that he believes that Google is misusing their monopoly-based power.

And now, Vivaldi has decided that they need to pretend to be Chrome 24/7 in order to not be blocked from blocked from certain websites. "Vivaldi is blocked for many reasons, and often by competitors, rivals and tech companies in a position of power. Blocking Chromium-based browsers has no technical merit in 2020, nor has it ever had." (Ref: Vivaldi Release page & ZD Net article)

Interestingly, Brave – another browser based on Chromium – also pretends to be Chrome.