Interesting interview from The Verge of Darin Fisher, a browser pioneer who has been involved in browser innovation since the Netscape days. Fisher recently left Google, where he worked on Chrome, to work on Arc, a new browser in private-preview from The Browser Company. Fisher reveals in the interview the competing incentives of a search-advertising company producing a web browser:
But the even more intractable problem, at least for the Chrome team, is that building a great web browser isn’t Google’s only goal. Chrome exists in large part to put a search engine front and center, which Fisher describes to me as like “a brick wall” for all kinds of browser innovation. “Anything we did that helps you get back to what you were doing, it means you weren’t searching, right?” Fisher says. Better tab management means less searching; sending you straight to the page you want means fewer search results and fewer ad impressions. Making you close your tabs and reopen them all the time isn’t just acceptable for Chrome; it’s a victory. Fisher and his team had lots of UI ideas and new features, but “all these good ideas die on the floor.”
Google's dominant position with Chrome is objectively bad for the open web, stifling innovation, and reinforcing patterns and behavior that benefit Google at the expense of the user. Similarly, Apple's strict lockdown of alternative browsers on iOS and iPadOS, while understandable from a security perspective, stand in the way of continued innovation.
I'm rooting for The Browser Company and Arc, and have been participating in their beta for some time now. Arc is already a wonderful upgrade to existing browsers, and I look forward to what comes next.