Thursday, July 26, 2018

pull the front page

When the news cycle is slow, the scribblers often don their "I make stuff up" t-shirts.

At Mexpatriate, when the news cycle is slow, we start gazing at our navel. And nothing could be more desperately-yogaish than writing about the browsers you loyal readers use to allow my meanderings to pour out into your head.

Mexpatriate is nearing its 11th birthday (though, it lived under an alias for several of those years). When I started writing about my planned move to Mexico back in 2007, only one browser held the field -- Microsoft's Internet Explorer. There were others, but Explorer was the champ.

After a few lawsuits in The States and some European Commission findings, Explorer gave way to better-engineered browsers. Firefox was one of the beneficiaries -- for a bit. It has now yielded to another giant's product. Chrome. Based on my conversations with computer users, I suspect my statistics do not vary greatly from the general browser public.

Of course, when I started writing, most readers had not yet heard of, let alone owned, smart phones (because most telephones back then were as stupid as a camera when it came to the internet) or tablets.

Take a look at this chart. It reflects today's browser results on Mexpatriate.

Not surprisingly, you are a Chrome crowd. Well, at least 37% of you are. That is just about the percentage of votes George McGovern obtained in 1972.

29% of you are Mobile users, and 18% of you are Appleites. (Actually, based on the usage of operating systems, 53% have an Apple connection.) That leaves just 10% of you using the once-mighty Firefox.

And what about Internet Explorer? Not so long ago the cock of the walk browser. A pathetic less than 1%. How the mighty have fallen.

And it is the falling of the mighty that sent me down this Peeping Tom cul-de-sac of browsers.

It is now Google's turn in the "David has you in his eye, Goliath" barrel. According to last week's edition of The Economist, the EU's European Commission fined Google (Chrome's daddy) a record of €4.3 billion. That is 5 billion dollars. US.

The infraction seems to be minor. Google is the developer of Android, the operating system on 81.7% of smart phones. That sounds like good marketing.

The problem is that Google requires a lot of its apps to be installed along with Android. You may recall what happened to Microsoft when it could no longer meet the demands of consumers. And Firefox could.

The European Commission imposed the fine because it was concerned that Google's inclusion of its apps on over 80% of smart phones was a monopolistic practice. The Commission had sharp elbowed Microsoft in 2007 for bundling Media Player with its operating system.

In addition to paying the fine, the Commission sounded like an angry mom in its Google decision. "You just sit there and think about what you have done, and then tell me what your punishment should be, young man."

No kidding. The Commission has required Google to come up with a solution to its monopolistic behavior. Do you want to lay odds just how successful that is going to be?

But, in the midst of all this a voice from the past was heard. There is a new version of Firefox. Its sobriquet is now Firefox Focus. And it is the anti-Chrome.

Chrome is an advertisement magnet, sifting your searches to offer you the best deals on things you did not yet know you needed. Firefox Focus blocks advertisements. Theoretically, even those prying advertisements generated by Nosy Parker Facebook.

That sounded too good not to try. So, I went to Google Play Store (fully aware I was wearing my irony cross) and found the magic browser. Within seconds it was on my telephone.

But I looked only at one page. Mexpatriate.

It is often true in life that hype and our own expectations create criteria impossible for anything to meet. Thus it is with Firefox Focus and Mexpatriate. I do not know what the issue is. Perhaps Firefox is incompatible with Google blog platforms. But, this is what Firefox Focus gave me.

I am not impressed. Maybe one of you would have an idea of fixing the browser for reading Mexpatriate. I could not find anything.

What I do know is, if history is a guide (and it usually is), Chrome's days at the top of heap are numbered. A decade from now we will be laughing about the browser we once thought was great.

As for me, I keep hoping Eudora will make a new appearance.

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