Friday, April 27, 2012

What Browser Should Facebook Buy?


The other day there was an interesting article on Cnet.com entitled “Why Facebook Needs to Build a Browser”. The main idea of the article is that Google's Chrome browser would soon over take other browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Since Google's overall strategy is to send people to their products to get as much ad revenue as possible, once Chrome becomes dominant all social network users will be sent to Google's very own Google Plus social network. Google has already begun building Google Plus buttons and connections into all of their products. It's only a matter of time before it becomes a built-in feature in Chrome. This mean that Facebook would need to build a browser.

The problem is Facebook should build a browser or buy one? At the current rate of Chrome market share growth, Facebook would need to move quickly, so building a browser from scratch is out of the question. Their best bet is to purchase an existing browser and adapt it to their needs. But which one? It would have to be one of the current top four browsers.

Facebook could made a deal with Microsoft to create a fork of Internet Explorer, but I don't like that idea for two reasons. First, I doubt Microsoft would appreciate losing control of their property. Second, IE is very slow and it's extension system stinks.

I doubt they could use Apple's Safari because of Apple's strict proprietary rules.

That leaves Firefox or Opera. I doubt they would use Firefox because there would be an uproar in the open source community.

Opera is the best bet for Facebook. Among other things, Opera has its own social network for its users and an email system. It would be easy for Facebook to fold these services into their current line up of features. Once again, Opera is the best bet.

One thing that Facebook should keep in mind when they create their browser is to make sure they are not too obtrusive. They need to take a look at MSN Explorer and AOL Explorer and then do the opposite. The problem with these browsers is that they force their products on the users. Subtle is better. Less is more.