Why the Browser Matters


I borrowed the title from “Ben’s Blog”, however the content is going to be a little different.

Why does the browser matter?

  1. It’s simple to use. Ask anyone if they know A) What a browser is & B) how to use it and the answer will be “Yes”
  2. It’s cross platform, meaning that no matter what device you’re on, the browser works the same way
  3. It connects to the Web in a way that is universally understood

In short, you have an “app” that is universally understood, works the same way on every platform and delivers content in a consistent and easy to view fashion. No other app can make that claim and that’s why the “Browser Matters”.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s look at the other side of the coin:

Why does the Web Matter?

  1. The Web is simple.
  2. The Web is flexible and forgiving. (The browser ignores things that it doesn’t understand).
  3. The Web is heterogeneous, which means it works on all platforms. (Not just Windows)
  4. The Web is loosely coupled. Most previous computing architectures required tight integration between the “server” program that stores the data and the “Client” program which manipulates it. In contrast there is no need to upgrade the Web browser every time a Web publisher changes a site. Server and Client are loosely coupled.

No other platform can make that claim and that’s why the “Web matters”.

So what does the Enterprise want?

  • One Interface – the Browser (see Why the Browser Matters)
  • One Platform – the Web (see Why the Web Matters)
  • Access to Multiple Data Sets – the Context (because that’s where all the customers data is)

It’s the last one that is the driving factor behind new revenue opportunities and ultimately why the Browser (& the Web is becoming more important and valuable every day).

Ben’s article talks about the importance of the Browser and about a company called Rockmelt which just raised another $30m dollars to improve their browser. He goes on to talk about how Rockmelt is focusing on 4 major items:

  1. People – it’s all about “social”
  2. Information Flow – it’s all about “feeds”
  3. Search – it’s all about “better search”
  4. Multiple Computing devices – It’s all about the cloud (storing my bookmarks, history, configuration in the cloud)

Totally agree, and everyone of those features is already available in the current browsers – well you might have to open up another tab but that’s about it. So if Rockmelt got $30m to improve the browser (because it matters)… what else might need improving while you’re in the code.

Well how about looking back at what the Enterprise wants, One Interface, One Platform and access to Multiple Data Sets (databases). Why is this so important – a single word sums it up – Money

They’re looking to leverage all the data that’s sitting in those databases. They know that customers the world over all know how to use a browser, and because it ships on every device there’s always a way to reach out and touch your customer.

So if all this matters so much what’s missing from the browser?

Well we asked a lot of users this very question and it all boiled down to three things:

  1. Convenience
  2. Privacy
  3. Control

Summarized – Give me a better user experience and don’t abuse my privacy, (let me control it).

So the goal now is to align those three things with what the Enterprise wants. And therein lies the things you need to do to really improve the browser.

So what’s missing?

  • How about a secure database where I can store my data (like a wallet)
  • How about a way to integrate this wallet with the browser so I can send my data to trusted Web sites
  • How about a way that I can “control” what gets sent to whom

Seems so simple, but there’s currently no way to do it. Microsoft has started the ball rolling with IE9 and “whitelisted” Web sites but still no real way to control my private data. And while we’re here, lets talk about Mobile for a moment. To me this is where the biggest opportunity lies. We keep these devices with us 24*7. We use them constantly and surprise, surprise – they’re mobile.

And yet to this day the Web really has no idea what the connecting device is really capable of doing.

So if someone offered me $30m to improve the browser I’d focus on the above. Doing so opens up net new revenue opportunities, it offers a way to improve the customers experience, and it offers a way to improve customers privacy.

And I’d put the other $29m in the bank for a rainy day.

Posted in: Context, Performance, Personalization, Privacy, User Experience, What: Device Information, Where: Location Information, Who: User Information

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