What is This “Browser” of Which You Speak?

By  |  Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Can you convince someone who doesn’t even know what a Web browser is to switch to a new one? Google appears to be trying, with a new Web site and video, which I learned about in this post by MG Siegler.

The site is, of course, a thinly-veiled promotional vehicle for Google Chrome. Although it’s an extremely soft sell–and since there’s no shipping version of Chrome for the Mac yet, the version of the site I just perused on my MacBook Pro has links to Opera, Safari, and Firefox (but not Flock or Camino, alas).

The video’s narrator says that most people don’t know what browser they’re running, or what a browser is. Can that possibly be true? Did Google do research on the matter? I dunno. But I do know that there are such people as folks who use computers every day but simply aren’t interested enough in technology to keep track of such things. One of the smartest people I know thinks her browser is Google. (Hint: She gave birth to me.)

Another question: How many people who are only dimly aware at best just what a Web browser is know how to download and install a new one, as Google suggests?

Alternative theory: Even if Google is serious about the idea that many folks don’t dump IE because they don’t know they’re using it, maybe the site and video–which are either soothing and straightforward or patronizing, depending on how you look at them–are meant more as goofy fun and a conversation-starter than as sincere outreach to the Web’s most blissfully ignorant users.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. ediedi Says:

    ‘The web broser is the most important piece of software on your computer’… Not really, (unless one works for Google, of course)

  2. David Says:

    ISP tech support here. I had to give up asking customers to open a browser window, because often they don’t know what a “browser” is.

  3. John Says:

    May not count as official “research,” but Google did take the “What is a browser?” question to the streets. There are some interesting responses:

  4. John Baxter Says:

    Does everyone know what a browser is? Not based on the local computer club. It’s a somewhat non-typical club (average age is somewhere around 65 including some WW-II). Some know (and some of those even venture into Firefox). Some don’t.

  5. R Fletcher Says:

    Chiming in from another support desk, there are a lot of people who don’t know what a browser is, or which one they use. They do try, but they just do what someone told them to do without knowing the names or functions of their computer tools. And that makes them a little harder to help…