One of the most attractive characteristics of Google Chrome when it launched in 2009 was its speed. Everyone I knew had already added enough plugins to Firefox to choke the browser as it tried to load. Even worse, Firefox add-ons, which the industry now calls plugins or apps, were an integral part of the browser’s loading time. A misbehaving program was enough to crash your browser, potentially losing work and certainly losing time. By comparison, Google Chrome seemed mysteriously sleek, like a racehorse running on an empty track early in the morning. Even better was the way Chrome handled crashes for its extensions, allowing one part of the program to crash while keeping the browser intact.
I vowed to never add so much baggage to Chrome to cause the program to lag. And I’ve been fairly faithful, pruning unused extensions whenever they’re unused. That cyber-take on the “stop sending the report and see who complains” has kept Chrome running fast. The time to launch Chrome on my system, the only one I care about, is about 3 seconds. Firefox typically runs 5-6 seconds unless it’s updating an add-on, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was apparently tested for speed using a sundial. That’s one takeaway for you as a small business leader: it’s nice to know how software and machines perform in magazine testing, but you should ultimately care about how they perform in your office.
Since then, Big Thinking has published a list of must-have Google Chrome Extensions with a short explanation of each. The list was divided last year into extensions for everyone and extensions for marketers, and that’s still a method that works well for me and readers who have commented. Since the first list in December 2009, only StumbleUpon has been on the list each time, but the venerable page recommendation engine is on my endangered list because I know I’m not using the tool very often any longer. Whether the lack of use is due to lack of time or burnout after years is irrelevant because it will be uninstalled if still aboard Chrome when it’s time for this summer’s list.
Perhaps the biggest change on this list is that well-loved and used extensions have been replaced by newer entrants into the field. I gave up Feedly for Google Reader because of the integration of PostRank analytics, and Feedly had been on every list before this. Xmarks, another favorite was deleted after Google Chrome’s built-in sync gave me similar functionality And after trying Gist, I moved to Rapportive because of its integration with my Batchbook CRM. Sometimes there is a second (or even third) mover advantage. If you pioneer the market and a competitor swoops in with a better product you’ve evangelized about then you simply have yourself to blame when you stopped improving your core.
Top Chrome Extensions – March 2011
Incredible StartPage – The perfect home page for a Chrome browser. I loved Speed Dial, but ISP has better graphics, usability and a notepad.
WiseStamp – I love WiseStamp so much that I check the site a couple of times each month for a premium offer (and they still won’t let me give them money)! Snuggling into your Gmail as a signature, WiseStamp pulls your most recent blog, Tweet and information from other social networks. This is the best email signature program I’ve ever used.
Baseball Player Search – This extension is important for its model, pulling data from up to 8 baseball websites. Every industry, niche and hobby should have as intuitive an app as Baseball Player Search.
Google Reader Notifier -Feedly is wonderful, but this Google RSS extension integrates with everything, including the top PostRank analytics program.
InvisibleHand – A smart, slick shopping choice that scans the web for an item you’re looking at and reports where the lowest price is, even airlines!
Rapportive – Rapportive’s integration with Batchbook sold me, but you can even follow or connect in social media from email.
Screen Capture – Google releases this nifty extension that captures and lets you annotate a page, the visible portion or a region with a mouse. No more PrtScn button!
YouTube – My favorite YouTube extension lets you kill comments and other distracting elements. In-video ads obviously remain, as they should.
Extensions that fell off this list this round: Feedly, SlideShow, SpeedDial, Turn off the Lights, Wikipedia Companion
Tomorrow: 13 great online marketing Chrome extensions!