Facebook Should Build Their Own Browser? I Do Not Think So

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 14, 2012
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Facebook, Google

Ben Parr over at Cnet believes that Google will eventually win the social networking battle against Facebook thanks to the success of the company's Google Chrome web browser.  The argument goes something like this: With Chrome becoming the most popular browser on the Internet in the next twelve or so months, and a feasible integration of Google+ in the browser, comes Google's chance of taking the number one social networking spot from Facebook.

While it is debatable if and when Chrome will take over Internet Explorer's top spot, it is likely that the browser will stay near the top web browser market share. The release of Windows 8 could reverse the trend somewhat, and with Mozilla finally bringing Firefox back on the right track, it is not clear how things will turn out between the three browsers.

It is also not clear if Google will integrate their social networking service Google+ into the browser natively. While it possible that they will do that at one point in time, it is as possible that they won't integrate the service into the browser.

The integration of Google+ in Chrome would surely increase the social networking site's user base. But it is not clear by how much, as it would depend on a number of factors. First how Google would integrate their service into the browser. If it is too annoying, tit could irritate the user base that does not want the integration in the browser. If it is barely visible, it might not get the traction to take Facebook's coveted number one spot.

Ben's solution nevertheless is that Facebook should create a Facebook browser. He does not believe that an integration into Microsoft's Internet Explorer (Firefox does not get mentioned at all) would help Facebook as it would not be a "game-changing move".

Creating their own browser would be a major undertaking even for a company like Facbeook. It took Google nearly three years to get where they are now with the Chrome browser, and that was largely due to the excessive cross-promotion of the browser on other Google properties. Chrome would have taken off either way, but the market share would not be anywhere near where it is now without the promotion.

To succeed, Facebook would have to create a browser that would be compatible on a technology level. It is not enough to create a browser that users can use to visit and use Facebook. The browser would have to compete on all levels and that does not seem feasible at this point in time as the company would be hard pressed to assign the development resources to such a big project.

Lets assume for a moment that Google does integrate Google+ into Chrome, and that Facebook has not created its own browser. Does that mean that Facebook users will use the social networking site less than before because of the integration? Unless Google blocks users from accessing Facebook in the browser, or displays a message that promotes Google+ whenever they do, it is unlikely that it will impact Facebook's market share.

And even if Google+ gets additional users, it does not really mean that those users won't be on Facebook as well.

Facebook lastly has other options to stand its ground. From integration into Windows 8 (for instance as a prominent tile in the operating system's new Metro start screen), to a cooperation with Mozilla.

What's your take on the suggestion?


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  1. bastik said on April 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    FB needs it’s own browser.

    – No privacy settings
    – Cookies can’t be blocked or deleted
    – Every term you search gets displayed on your FB page
    – Every website you visit gets liked
    – Integrated email-client with uplink to FB
    – Integrated IM through FB servers
    – integrated RSS reader proxied over FB servers

    and every time you start it Marc says “Welcome to Facebook!”

    As much as I like diversity and competition a FB browser would be the last thing I would want.

    Whenever Google integrates G+ in it’s browser, it has to be done careful as some users could look for another browser, when they get annoyed by it.

  2. David Levin said on April 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Just what the internet needs… ANOTHER web browser! Terrible idea.

  3. kalmly said on April 15, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    CNET? Nothing coming from CNET (the website that destroyed itself in 2, or was it 3, easy steps) can be taken seriously. – Not that I care a rat’s ear about Facebook.

  4. batman said on April 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Cant facebook just base a browser on chromium just like google is?

  5. dan said on April 15, 2012 at 8:03 am

    im pretty sure facebook can spare somewhere between 20 and 50 million to come up with a browser

  6. Rahman said on April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Google can do all they want such as integrating their services to Chrome, but when it comes to Social Networking, it will always be behind Facebook.

  7. Gonzo said on April 15, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Martin, that article made me laugh. I didn’t take it seriously at all. It’s hype nothing more.

    FF and Chrome are popular because the USER decides what to integrate via plugins and add ons. Forcing Google+ or Facebook into the browser would have many seeking alternatives. It’s nonsense.

  8. Roman ShaRP said on April 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    (1) I’m having a hard time trying to recall when “integration of something big to some software” was good.

    Rather, when there are plans to integrate something into something, there are always outcries, fears and calls for alternatives among users.

    Really, integration often (at least) does not help, but only delivers bloatware. Remember integration of Facebook into Skype? I’m still seeing calls “Get Skype Business to get rid of Facebook integration”. Remember integrations of different unneeded things into the official ICQ client? What now? It was 2007 or 2008 when I saw pranks about “They want to make ICQ protocol paid” last time. Now nobody cares: we all have a number of Jabber accounts and various social network chat accounts…

    (2) Remember integration of IE to Windows? It might be seen as helpful for IE popularity – but now, when I work with MS stack of products (IE, Outlook, Office … ), I see them as painfully slow, because IE rendering was never quick, so I still curse that integration and other integrations.

    So, I disagree with you, Martin, here:
    // It took Google nearly three years to get where they are now with the Chrome browser, and that was largely due to the excessive cross-promotion of the browser on other Google properties. Chrome would have taken off either way, but the market share would not be anywhere near where it is now without the promotion. //

    Promotion can’t fix poor performance. It didn’t help IE to be “browser of all times”. It didn’t help Google Wave – all promotion and hype were futile. Google Chrome, wouldn’t be where it is now only by “talking the talk” but without “walking the walk”, real performance deal.

    (3) Remember Flock, The Social Browser? It was discontinued year ago. And funny coincidence – I learned that prior to discontinuing Flock was acquired by Zynga.

    So – Ben Parr is all wrong.

  9. Leocadio A. de Melo said on April 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    why not to try RockMelt, FB users???

  10. Jeremy Collake said on April 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I believe you are correct in your analysis. It seems absurd to even suggest this idea (Facebook developing its own browser). The premise is false to start with, therefore the rest is just sheer imagination and subject to any number of other failed premises. It should be noted, though, that should Facebook create their browser for some unlikely reason, afaik there is no reason they couldn’t fork Firefox, unless there is some prohibition to doing so in the license (maybe there is). Why they would ever do so I don’t know.. a plug-in makes a lot more sense, to say the least, even if the plug-in architecture must be tweaked. Anyway, its not likely to ever happen for the reasons you stated and more.

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