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I started using the Internet before there were browsers. When Netscape was delivered I immediately started using it. Thus began a long love hate relationship with browsers. I will admit that in my misspent youth (before 50) I changed from Netscape to Windows Explorer. This usage lasted until I found Firefox. I used Firefox for years and years until Chrome appeared, which is my current browser. Along the way I tried about six other browsers, including Safari, for a week or so and then rejected them.
One of the great stories from the MIT Media Lab is that when Netscape announced their IPO in 1995, a student wrote a new browser. He did it overnight and it was 7 lines of code. 7 lines of code! Browsers are actually quite simple. They are not rocket science. The thousands of add-ons and extensions for every browser I think prove the point. However, add-ons and extensions are where my problem begins. Over the years I have become quite particular about the functionality in the browser and have always customized the browser with add-ons and extensions. To a significant degree I pick new browsers based on their add-ons/extensions and they have to be the ones I have become dependent on, such as Evernote, Dropbox, Wolfram Alpha, etc.
This required package of add-ons/extensions brings me to my single biggest complaint with the iPad. The browsers are inadequate. Safari is hopeless. No real functionality beyond sharing to Twitter and Facebook. My current iPad browser, Terra, is slightly better but I still do not have the ability to add something to Evernote or Dropbox.
This week I ordered the new Lenovo tablet to evaluate. I picked it because it has the option for an integrated keyboard. If this tablet has a decent touch screen, accelerometer and a Chrome browser that I can sync to my laptop version of Chrome, the iPad may be toast. If the browser just permits add-ons/extensions for my requirements, even that would be sufficient to abandon the iPad.
For me the iPad is attractive because of its form factor and weight. Such features do not develop much loyalty in a user. I am not interested to use iCloud. I have better free or low cost alternatives. For the iPad to maintain its marketshare over time, I think they need to upgrade the browser for add-ons and extensions. Given that most people use their tablet for email and internet access, my points seems even more compelling.
This post was inspired in part by a post on ReadWriteWeb.