Google Chrome & Firefox Beware: OnLive’s Free Web Browser Could be the Fastest
Over the past 5 years we have seen a complete evolution of the internet web browser. Internet Explorer, which once reined supreme, has started falling behind the faster browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It seems as though the big three (Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer) have become a triopoly within the web browser industry. Sure there are less popular browsers such as Opera and Mac users’ default Safari, but when you think of the future of web browsing, you think of the big three. Could a cloud video game company be on the verge of changing this?
The main reason why Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have become increasingly popular over the past few years, while Internet Explorer has lost significant market share, is simply because of one factor. Speed has been the single most important aspect in Google and Mozilla’s climb to the top.
Welcome to OnLive. A cloud video game company that launched their system just over a year ago. They allow users to stream high definition, graphic intense, video games that have a difficult time running locally on most computers today, instantly over the internet. On the surface, OnLive works similarly to Netflix, but for video games rather than movies and TV shows. Everything takes place in the cloud with OnLive, and to the surprise of even the best internet engineers in the world, it works almost flawlessly.
This summer, OnLive expects to move in a slightly new direction. They plan on launching an internet web browser, which not only is different from any we have seen in the past, but also with a feature that most of us could never have imagined. Just like the way in which OnLive’s cloud gaming system processes its games on extremely high end servers located hundreds of miles away, streaming the content directly to users, the web browser will have similar features. The browser will allow software such as Flash, Quicktime and Silverlight to be rendered in the cloud, and streamed directly to users from OnLive’s 10 gigabit/second servers. Because OnLive will be available on virtually any computer (PC or Mac), as well as the majority of tablets, smartphones and TVs, it will allow high end web plugins to run on any of these devices. This means the Apple iPad and iPhone will be able to run flash. It means that a 7 year old computer which normally could take 10 minutes to load an intense website, could do so almost instantly. It means, web browsing is about to change for the better.
So what will the OnLive web browser be able to run? We asked OnLive’s Founder and CEO Steve Perlman more specifically about this in a recent interview (audio available below). When asked if the browser would run Java, Perlman responded, “I think it will be able to to run, but in principal it can. The thing that we have to worry about with a browser that’s in the cloud, it is impossible for us to manage every possible website that could be harmful. In other words, we don’t want it to be a launch pad for someone to go and have a website that turns into a giant spam site that sends out millions of spam messages through our 10 Gigabit connection. We have to be a little bit cautious in what we allow.”
Basically the web browser will be able to run like any other web browser out there, except it will be run in the cloud, as opposed to on a local device. It is just a matter of securing the system before all the aspects of the browser will be able to run safely.
Perlman went on to say, “The main thing, it’s (the browser) focused on allowing people to do, because we are an entertainment service, is going to be entertainment; things like video, and games, and stuff like that. Most of those are flash based or some of them are Quicktime based or Windows Media based. Those will be the first things that we enable. As far as allowing arbitrary code to be written, to run on the system, that’s more complicated. It’s not to say that we’re not eventually going to do it, but people rather us roll out something sooner with the majority of the sites they want to get to, than something later which is a full featured browser.”
A full featured browser that could run on the cloud, with almost zero latency issues and speeds that could not be reached by 99% of the devices and computers on the market today, would certainly be something that could quite possibly disrupt the current web browser triopoly. However, for now it appears as though OnLive is not trying to overtake the browser market.
“On any device that you’re going to be using the OnLive system, there is a browser,” Perlman stated. “Whether it’s a tablet, or whether it’s a PC or Mac, you do have a browser. We don’t feel the need to completely replace the browser you have. What we would rather do is give you a browser that accelerates things that are tough to do with a local browser.”
While the goal currently doesn’t seem to compete with the likes of Google Chrome or Firefox, it would be hard to argue that if this web browser does what OnLive says it will do, it could quite easily change the industry forever.
Your traditional web browsers are free to use, and always have been. OnLive currently is only a video game service that allows users to demo games for free, rent games, purchase them outright, or pay a monthly fee of $9.99 for a PlayPack membership. The PlayPack membership provides users with unlimited play to over 60 games, and this number is constantly increasing. So, would OnLive follow tradition, and release their browser to the public for free? For that answer, we asked Steve Perlman.
“The current plan is just to let it out there, to have it one of the features of the (free) service. It’s complicated because we have to go and be reasonable about usage,” explained Perlman. “If people go nuts on this thing, and for example, it provides flash capabilities to iPad, you can easily see how people can go and just use it; forget the game service and just use it for that. What we’re going to do is kind of monitor it, and see what kind of (demo)graphic and usage we have. If people are being reasonable, that’s fantastic. We’ll let them go wild on it.”
OnLive obviously wants to make the web browsing service free, but at the same time they don’t want people to only use the service for the web browsing capabilities, while ignoring the rest. This is something OnLive will have to think about, but it’s not a huge obstacle by any means, considering all they have accomplished thus far.
The future of web browsing, like that of basically any computer, smartphone, tablet, or TV is in the cloud. Whether people like the idea of cloud computing or not, it is a clear direction in which we are quickly moving. OnLive may take their browser to a level where they try and compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Mozilla, but that is getting ahead of themselves. Steve Perlman is a genius in what he does. He has made OnLive a reliable cloud video game service, at a time when hundreds of experts in the field told him it was impossible, with today’s internet infrastructure.
When we asked Perlman about his biggest hurdles with OnLive, he sarcastically responded, “I think the biggest hurdle is when we first started working on this thing, and not getting locked away in an insane asylum. Pretty much everyone said this would never work.”
Thankfully, Steve Perlman is not in an insane asylum, but rather the CEO of a company (OnLive) in which we strongly feel is the future of cloud computing. He made OnLive work, when no one believed it was possible. Could he soon transform web browsing as we know it? Stay tuned for the OnLive web browser release this summer to find out.
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Listen to the segment of our interview with Steve Perlman about the web browser below: