Stephen Shankland of Cnet is reporting that Google has ceased development of the Google Toolbar for Firefox. It works on versions of the browser up to 4, but won’t ever run with the new version 5 and beyond. Google’s official rationale? Firefox has added features which render the toolbar irrelevant. On a purely rational level, it may be right about that. But I suspect the absence of a Google Toolbar for the world’s second most-used browser will send a lot of people into a tizzy.
Three years ago, when Google’s Chrome browser was brand new, I wrote about the fact that there was no Google Toolbar for it. Then as now, you could have made the case that the toolbar was superflous, but that didn’t stop people from really, really wanting a Google Toolbar for Chrome. The post got a ton of readers, and I followed up with one on my not-very-serious project to build a Google Fakebar.
People like doing things the way they’re comfortable doing them. (That’s the only plausible explanation for why it’s still possible to pay for AOL service.) And Google Toolbar was so useful for so long that here are probably millions of people out there who use it every single day on Firefox.
Shankland says that Google isn’t saying anything about the future of the toolbar for Internet Explorer. I wonder if there are people so wedded to the toolbar that they’d switch from Firefox to IE to keep it?