The Google Toolbar: Superfluous? Probably. Beloved? Definitely!

By  |  Friday, July 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

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?

 
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6 Comments For This Post

  1. d00per Says:

    I won't miss it. It always seems to sneak into installers for Windows apps, and I always decline to install it because I don't like extra crap in my browser. I'm glad Google is starting to ditch all this irrelevant stuff and focus more attention on its core services.

  2. offset printing Says:

    I've never really been a fan of toolbars because they take browser real estate and I've experienced that sometimes, toolbars do something weird while I'm browsing the internet. Maybe some people like it but I guess it's a little right to say that firefox has a lot of features that makes the toolbar a little useless.

  3. Michael Says:

    The main reason I used the Google toolbar was for its text highlighting, which is better than the built-in Firefox find/highlight feature. With the toolbar, you can highlight multiple non-subsequent words on a page, but Firefox has to have them grouped together to find them.

  4. Esteban Says:

    Death to toolbars! They are a relic from the dark ages of IE6.

  5. JohnFen Says:

    Google has a toolbar?

    I honestly didn’t know.

  6. Tony Says:

    I use the Google toolbar – and won't use Chrome or upgrade Firefox – because there are things that you just CANNOT do without it. So it's nothing about superfluous.