Novel browser alternatives are all the rage — even though most people still prefer the big six browser brands. The problem is the providers of these alternatives are essentially newcomers, still trying to figure out what it is they’re going to do. So it’s good news for browsers that a consortium of browser companies has just closed a $5 million Series A to build out its own browser, The Browser Company.
The Browser Company, officially formed in April, already has a number of browser software developers on board, including some from both the Google camp (the company’s Chrome browser) and Microsoft’s Edge browser. What’s more, The Browser Company’s technology is intended to be cross-platform — which means that consumers will be able to use the browser on all sorts of devices, not just PCs or smartphones.
That’s an important feature because early browser offerings were simply bloated versions of Apple’s Safari on Apple’s Mac or Microsoft’s Edge on PCs. Those browsers also lacked the ability to run apps. As AppAdvice’s recent blog post on The Browser Company points out, browsers are becoming much more valuable in the age of big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing — just ask Google, which invested in building out its massive machine learning capabilities. So, The Browser Company wants to give consumers the flexibility to use that processing power wherever they want.
The Browser Company has not yet disclosed which browser or browsers it will support in the future, though its technology will let users tap into the Chrome web browser for desktop computers, Edge for PCs, and iOS, Android, and tvOS for mobile devices. Early feedback from developers in the consortium is very positive. (Their inclusion suggests that several members of the old Browser Company — including AOL and Microsoft, and Oracle’s JAVA developers — decided to pursue charter instead of consortium membership.)
Chrome as a browser has become even more important, particularly as Google has made it a hub for its other services, from YouTube to Gmail to apps like Google Calendar and Photos. Google keeps a tight lid on new features and upgrades for its major products, and all that control is one of the reasons its browser has grown so popular. So, even though an alternative to Chrome is welcomed, it’s far from clear that consumers are going to shift en masse from Chrome to a browser that helps Google continue doing what it does best.
That was a problem for the last browser alternative company, Eudora. A little over a decade ago, Eudora ran into so much competition that it effectively couldn’t become mainstream. But The Browser Company says that this time around, it has support from the other major browser makers, and shouldn’t have the same problems. Still, whether that support will actually work remains to be seen.