Google Chrome Internet Web Browser Review

Google released their first web browser yesterday called “Chrome”.  This web browser has some new advancements and will perform much faster than IE and Firefox according to their marketing material (in the form of a comic book).  Being the skeptic I am, I thought I would download it and give it a test run.

As I discussed in this post on how I surf, I use the FireFox browser which I estimate is the most popular browser for most PF bloggers and serious surfers. The release of IE7, which included tabs, closed a lot of the gap between IE and Firefox but for most people who already use Firefox, there was no reason to switch to IE. Keep in mind that I’m talking about a select group of surfers – probably 95% of surfers will use either IE6 or IE7 – whichever is installed in their computer.

photo by Incase Designs

Downloading and setting up Chrome

A download link for the beta version of Chrome is on the main google page or you can go here for the download.   The download file is the installer and downloads almost immediately.   After clicking on the exe file, it took about about 60 seconds to completely load up the browser.  Total time spent so far is about 2 minutes.

How does it look?

Like the Google homepage, the Chrome browser is fairly clean.  One of the efforts with this browser has been to decrease the clutter at the top of the screen – unfortunately I don’t have pic to show you but since it only takes a minute or two to load the thing – go look for yourself!  🙂  I would estimate that the non-surfing area is about half as large with Chrome compared to my version of Firefox.  Of course your own customizations of Firefox could change this ratio greatly.  The page tabs are right at the top of the screen where there is normally the title bar and there is no separate search box since the address box and search box are one and the same.  It will take a bit of getting used to but it looks pretty good.

Chrome vs. Firefox speed

To test the speed I just did some simple browsing (ie opening a bunch of sites at once) and compared the speeds.  Of course this test isn’t all that valid since it should be run on a clean test machine but since I was testing for my personal use – it’s valid enough for me!

First run – Chrome was incredibly fast. I was quite amazed at how fast it was until I looked at the browser results and I realized that most of the sites in the test folder required a sign in which Chrome couldn’t do yet – obviously this invalidated the first run. I went through the tabs and logged in – most of the tabs had the info in the sign-in screen but I still had to press “ok”.

After that I did some surfing and tried to determine if one browser was significantly faster than the other.  The truth is that I really couldn’t tell the difference – because of the poor testing conditions and numerous variables which I couldn’t control, both browsers appeared fast and slow at different times.  Things like slow websites, my own internet connection (which is not all that constant) served to interfere with the tests as well as point out that even if one browser is faster, it might not matter that much for my normal surfing.

Surfing anonymously

One of the neat new features of Chrome is the ability to turn on a “incognito” mode (click on the Control Current Page icon and select Incognito) which means that your browser will not keep any trace of your browsing history.  I can’t imagine why *cough – adult* anyone would possibly *cough – situational* have any motivation *cough – photography* for such a strange thing but I’m sure some enterprising surfers will find a use for it.


I found Chrome to be a pretty good browser, but I don’t know if I will switch from Firefox or not since it doesn’t appear to be all that different other than the looks.  I would imagine that a Firefox user who has a lot of plugins would find it difficult to leave for a new browser and would have to start over.  Personally, I haven’t gotten around to installing any plugins so that is not a factor for me.


Is VISA a Buy Now?

Yesterday was the highly anticipated initial public offering (ipo) of Visa – stock symbol “V” (you know you are big when you get a single letter) which ended up being the biggest stock IPO in American history. The stock was sold to (already) rich insiders, ie brokers,executives and various other people much richer than I, at a price of $44 per share.

As is often the case with “hot stock ipos”, the price started trading much higher (around $65) than the initial offering price and ended up the day at $56.50. So the huge financial gap between those rich insiders and myself, is ever so slightly larger as I write this.

The success of the VISA ipo is all the more surprising considering the fact that not once did I use my VISA card yesterday, so I’m guessing someone else perhaps took up the slack? 🙂

Is VISA a good buy now?

Hmmmm…..I have no idea. As I mentioned a couple of days ago I think that the amount of hype around this stock makes it a long shot to make money from trading in VISA shares but what do I know?? Well, I do know that if it was a good buy at the ipo price $44 (which apparently it was), it’s a lot less of a good buy at $56 which is quite a bit higher.

Who made money on the VISA ipo?

Not me (thanks for asking), but judging from the fact that 177 million shares were traded today out of a total float of 406 million – I would guess that a lot of the fat cat insiders who were able to order some ipo shares made out like bandits. Too bad the VISA investment bankers were not inspired by the Google Dutch auction system.

Anyone else?

From my extensive research it appears that the following institutions also made out like bandits in this deal:

  • Bank of America (BAC) – $625 million.
  • J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs – $500 million in fees.
  • Citygroup Inc. – $300 million.
  • Quest For Four Pillars Inc. -$0.00


The rich got richer, I’m still going to work tomorrow and VISA will probably do ok, but don’t expect the kind of returns that MasterCard has produced.


Visa IPO – The Good and the Bad

With the upcoming VISA ipo (initial public offering) I thought it would be worthwhile to write about this event. I’m not really a stock trading kind of guy since I’m generally more comfortable with exchange traded funds, however I like to follow stocks for interest (and the occasional purchase.)

What’s the big deal with the VISA ipo?

This will be the biggest IPO in US history at around 17 billion dollars. In comparison the much heralded Google IPO was about $1.7 billion dollars which was one of the biggest technology IPOs ever.

What exactly do they do again?

They are in a great business where they get paid for processing transactions for banks that have credit cards. Visa does about two thirds of all such transactions in America. A good chunk of the money will go to the member banks which currently own VISA – given how most of them have been hit hard by the credit crunch, the money will come in handy!

Should I buy the VISA ipo?

The problem with this stock is lots of investors get excited about buying stocks in companies that they are familiar with. Here in Canada we had an IPO a few years ago for a company called Tim Horton’s Donuts (THI) which is our best known coffee shop. This ipo had a lot of buzz around it but the stock hasn’t done all well since the financial performance of a stock has very little to do with the public’s sentiment toward the company.

Another easy comparison is Mastercard which has gone up about 400% in the two years since its IPO. As ThickenMyWallet points out, there are significant differences between the two companies such as the market share. Visa already has a good majority of the market so it will be hard for them to improve on that.

Don’t forget – IPO prices are based on supply and demand – if there is enough buzz around the stock then the IPO price will go up and it will be harder to make money from it. This buzz will frequently cause the stock price to rise a lot in the beginning which is when the average investor can buy it so it’s often a classic case of buying high.

On the other hand – investors who bought shares of Google (Goog) have done quite well until recently.

Another post on the Visa ipo.
A good post on the Tim Horton’s mania.