Today, Chrome is #1. Chrome is fast. Chrome is pretty. Chrome comes up with answers sometimes before I finish typing

But Chrome is a Google (Alphabet) product, so you know “they” are tracking your every move. Then again, this is part of how it gets to be so fast. Internally, it knows where you’ve already been, and where you’ve already clicked. In fact, it tells you how many times you’ve been someplace, and when you were last there. Surely those notes aren’t just for my benefit. The question is, do I really care if some office full of young tech wizards knows how many times I’ve re-searched and re-downloaded IRS Form 2848?

To answer this, we have to address the phenomenon of FREE browser. All those young Silicon Valley tech wizards, as much as they love sitting in front of their screens all day (and getting free lunches and bringing their dogs to work and so on,) still want to be paid. And Silicon Valley is not a cheap address. If I get free searches, who’s picking up the tab?

You know the answer: advertisers!

A few years ago, in the office, we revisited our payroll platform selections, and for the longest time after that we had nothing but payroll ads. One Christmas, I knew my husband was planning to get me a watch because his tablet, which I use to play Mah Jong, kept showing variations of a particular women’s watch ad. If you look for a particular brand of shoes, you will get shoe ads from that brand. If you search for electric drills, you’ll get ads for power tools. If you compare airfares for your vacation, you’ll get travel ads. Nobody’s fingers are walking through the yellow pages anymore, and the advertisers know it. (So what do young children sit on in order to reach the table at Grandma’s house?)

If you don’t want to see certain types of ads, don’t search for those things. Or, immediately after searching for electric drills for your husband’s birthday, do some intense searching for something likely to have high advertising competition in an industry with deep pockets, like payroll. Payroll ads are about as benign as it gets, and it is probably very easy to tune out something in which you aren’t interested.

Chrome was released in September 2008, and is free to anyone who chooses to use it. You might say, even though you don’t pay up front with dollars, you pay with information relating to your search habits. (How “they” might use that information is beyond our scope today.) But it’s just so darn fast…

In March 2016, Chrome’s worldwide usage topped 60%.