Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Mac Web Browser People Want To Use But Don’t

Are there any really bad browsers left on the Mac these days? Microsoft’s Internet Explorer died years ago. Since then, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in browser speed and stability, and a boatload of features that would make Microsoft proud.

Safari remains the most popular Mac browser by far, followed closely by Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome, and then, well, nothing else. It’s a race for second place, with all the other browsers bringing up the rear in a race for fourth place.

Camino

The Mac browser I used to love no longer gets used. Mozilla’s Camino was the Mac-like version of Firefox. It’s still a mix of Firefox designed for the Mac, but it’s also the browser we seldom see show up in web server logs.

Mac users once loved and used Camino. Those days are gone.

It’s not as if Camino doesn’t have modern features. There’s autocomplete in the location bar, plugins, excellent web page rendering speed, and a one-click method to bring all your Safari settings and bookmarks into Camino.

Camino does all the modern browser warfare tricks. There are tabs (prettier than Google’s Chrome). Built-in phishing and malware protection. Pop up advertising blockers. Built-in Mac Keychain support.

What’s not to like about Camino?

It also has AppleScript support for the geekier Mac users. Zooming in on a page or graphic is ultra easy. Camino remembers your tabs and pages, does spell checking within text fields, finds RSS feed URLs, and even updates itself.

What’s not to like about Camino?

The problem seems to be that Camino is too little, too late. Overall, the feature list isn’t much different than other Mac browsers. In other words, there is no compelling reason for a Mac user to use Camino instead of, well, Safari or Firefox or Chrome or even Opera.

All these browsers have the same price tag. Why bother with Camino?

I suspect that Camino gets used by a few Mac users who find Firefox too complex, Chrome too ugly, Opera too busy, and Safari too common. As browsers go, Camino is fine. It’s just not fine enough to make many users switch.