Posts Tagged ‘web browsers

02
Oct
08

Google Chrome Market Share slips a little whilst IE gains a little

google chromeIn an interesting snapshot of adoption rates for Internet Browsers, Google Chrome slipped 0.1% to a 0.7% share of the total Internet Browser market in mid September. This is not surprising really, as nearly all the geeks I know went straight out and downloaded Chrome as soon as the comic came out to try it. It is only natural it’s market share would see an artificial spike as people bought into the launch hype, followed by a small drop as the users who didn’t like it revert to using their preferred browser as default. As with any new product from a company the size and ubiquity of Google (and also Microsoft, at that), there was also intense scrutiny of various aspects of Chrome which didn’t help. Kinda like using Qantas’ forgetting to empty one of their toilets on a flight as proof of the airline’s safety record going down the gurgler, Google was always going to be heavily scrutinised & criticised with Chrome.

What’s interesting about the small slip in market share is that Google’s brand alone doesn’t appear to be as good a reason to consumers to use Chrome as I had previously suspected. In a world where it seems it’s PR-worthy if a Google employee has pickled eggs for lunch, I was quite certain the beta of Chrome would be much more widely adopted. However, we are not seeing this yet, perhaps because Chrome is still in beta and hasn’t really been pushed very hard yet, but more likely because it is entering a market where it’s competitors are already playing by Google rules – Google typically comes into a market and does things either (A) much better than previous competitors (think Search and Search Advertising), or (B) for free in a market where people have previously paid to consume products (think Android‘s release). Chrome sits well in Google’s strategy from a technology standpoint (they want to own the user’s experience and therefore data from start to finish, which is smart), but their grounds for competing is not as well defined with Chrome as it has been with some of their other offerings:

1 Chrome is not really a drastically different product to FF3 or IE8 beta 2 (I’ve seen the claims that it’s handling of JScript is much faster but really this difference is currently negligible in day to day use of Chrome – at any rate, it’s not a compelling enough point of difference for most end users to switch just yet.

2 Browsers have always been free,

So Google’s 2 traditional basis for competing have been removed… the question is, then, how will Google make Chrome seem different and attractive enough for people to actually take the time and effort to download, install and get used to it when their current browsers are doing the job just fine? Will they clone the IE strategy of Browser Wars 1 and make sure every laptop, ultramobile PC, Mac, desktop, server and mobile phone that ships come pre-installed with Chrome? Or can they create a sufficiently different beast after beta release to spur people to make the switch to chrome and stay there (Google has a pretty fuzzy notion of what exactly constitutes a ‘beta’ release, as Gmail has been in beta release stage since April 1st, 2004 – see below snippet taken from gmail earlier today 🙂 )image

 

 

30
Sep
08

Best URL Shortener I’ve used yet – Part 2

In a previous post, I lamented the loss of tracking data that comes with using certain URL shorteners – these sites are providing a great service, but at the same time, are removing some of the control you have over your data. I suggested bit.ly as a partial solution to that problem, since it provides stats on how many people have clicked on the shortened URLs you create.

However, there’s another interesting addition to the seemingly ever-broadening URL shortener market – uTag. uTag is Australian. Sweet. It’s different from other URL shortener offerings in that it lets users raise revenue from using uTag shortened URLs, with payments being deposited into your PayPal account… any uTag links users click on open with a drop down advertising bar in the top of your browser, hence making your link-love ad revenue supported. This might sound irritating for users, but the bar can be closed down with a click of the user’s mouse button if it annoys them. Whilst it’s probably not the right way to go for your polished, corporate marketing blogs / twitter accounts, it’s another way to monetize what you do online and effectively represents opt in ad displays, which in itself is a new concept (i.e. you can turn embedded ads on or off)

Screencast of how uTag works stolen from the uTag blog FAQ post.

31
Aug
08

Internet Explorer Beta 2 has landed: Things e-marketers should know.

I’ve recently installed and am currently using IE8 (Beta 2). Have to admit it’s not bad at all, but it did break my blog 🙂 (see below – That’ll serve me right for using generic wordpress CSS…)

Good news is “Compatibility View” allows users to still view any websites which have’t yet been optimised as the site’s designers meant them to be viewed  – which will be most IE optimised sites since IE8 is still in beta.

Anyway, there’s a few things e-marketing managers should keep in mind about the world’s most popular browser. I’ll go over a couple more in the coming weeks, but for now, the main thing you need to know is…

“IE8 will break the internet”

Well, that’s not strictly true, but this melodramatic phrase, used quite a bit on blogs and tech news sites over the past 6 months, sums up what pretty well the main thing e-marketers should be aware of and acting on before IE8’s RTW (release to web) version. 

What does “IE8 will break the Internet” mean?

In a nutshell, it’s a reference to old versions of Internet Explorer (IE7 and earlier) that were not strictly web standards compliant. We have ‘web standards’, created and championed by not-for-profit organisations like the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in order to ensure the web remains accessible, interoperable and predictable. I’m no web standards expert so I can’t tell how to make sure your site is standards compliant, but most web developers really should be at least familiar with web standards guidelines (if they aren’t, there’s an extremely comprehensive guide at http://www.w3.org/).

You don’t, however, need to be a web standards expert to know if your site is going to be OK or not – the easy way to test is to simply download the IE8 beta2 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/.  

Anyway, let’s get away from standards and back to IE8. Internet Explorer is the most popular browser on earth, so many companies / web developers / web designers in the past optimised their sites to run in IE. Since IE has not traditionally been 100% web standards friendly, these IE optimised sites were of course in turn not necessarily built to comply to web standards. With IE8 now focusing on web standards compliance, there are fears some these old IE optimised sites will ‘break’ when viewed in standards compliance mode (which will be the browser’s default mode) in IE8.

And break some sites have (for example, see my screengrab at the top of the page). You can see that the ‘breakage’ in this case, and indeed in most cases I’ve come across, is not all that dramatic – definitely not deserving of the doomsayer’s “IE8 will break the Internet” monicker. However, it’s the small things that count online, so things like having a text box out of alignment can really detract from an otherwise beautiful site. Like it or not, little errors in wen design and development reduce your credibility, no matter what sort of business you run.

As a stopgap measure, the IE team have built in a “Compatibility View” into IE8 which shows broken sites as they were originally designed to be shown (this concept is called backwards compatibility). Whilst it may be tempting then to just leave your site as it currently is and rely on viewers to click on the Compatibility View button (see picture below) to view the site properly, the reality is IE8’s new features will take users a while to learn… alot of users are going to be viewing your broken page before they work out what Compabtility View is. And knowing how many people are using Internet Explorer, this could well result in loss of business (or at least an unprofessional-looking online experience for up to a billion or so browsers).

 Compatibility View in IE8

Don’t Panic!

The good news is this- IE8 is only in beta so you’ve still got time to get your web developers / agency fixing things up all purty before IE8 gets wider adoption and Joe Average starts using it (at the moment, you’ll see techies and early adopters using the beta2, meaning the scale of breakage is still small).

Swing back in the next couple of days and I’ll have a blog post on ‘Web Slices’ in IE8, what they are, and why marketers should know about them. Hopefully I might also have worked out how to update (or at least change) the CSS of my blog so it looks how it should 🙂

EDIT: Whilst it’s a few months old now, I came across this article about the 3 modes the IE8 team built into the product to try to minimise breakage. It’s a good read for better insight into how IE8 is trying to avoid breakage.

EDIT 2 – 18/9/08: For the developers amongst you (if any actually read this blog) there’s a highly comprehensive MSDN page covering IE and compatitibility at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-au/ie/cc405106.aspx




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