I was a Firefox user until a couple of months ago. I switched because the people in charge of Firefox were making really bad decisions, treating users badly.
A year ago I wrote: "Browsers should be like the lens in my glasses. If you're thinking about it, your attention is in the wrong place. You use a browser to look through, at other things."
1. Make Firefox faster. Not at rendering pages, but at handling mouse clicks after it had been running for a few hours.
2. Get rid of the spinning cursor. Firefox would disappear for very long spells. I would sit there tapping my fingers, waiting to get control of my computer back.
Lest they think Google is perfect, they are not, in any way, perfect. They decided to change the way Google Groups works. Now I can't find my groups. And I can't find the commands that control the individual groups.
When I am testing the water with a new product, I can start small, and take careful steps. Over time I come to trust it, and I build more. And more. Then I move into the house I created. What Firefox did, and what Google did with Groups, is act as if I was starting with a new product. They knocked down my house, leaving me homeless. They didn't begin to understand what their users do. Neither company.
Now there's an excellent piece by a developer at Firefox that shows that at least someone is paying attention. He's only getting a very rough outline of how users work. But at least now someone is listening. Instead of having awful condescending and inaccurate theories about how users work.
His piece is an echo of my own We Make Shitty Software, 1995. Our software sucks, so does yours. We'll make it better. Part of making it better is not breaking your users. Do that and you lose their trust, fast. I learned that one in 1984 when we shipped the first Thinktank for the Mac. It was missing many features that were in the IBM PC product. The users didn't care why. They were right.
I don't trust any of these companies. They are run by very narcissistic people, who imho aren't trying very hard. They think they have lock-in, and they do have a little of it, for a while longer. But when change comes, it comes explosively. I don't think they're going to like it when it happens. What Firefox is learning now is that if they push their users hard enough, they will leave. My guess is that Chrome will learn the same thing at some point.
I wrote in 1994, as the web was first booming, that every 15 years or so the users revolt and take control. I think we're getting close to that point again.
Marco Arment said something very nice the other day. That eventually I am proven right. It's only because I've seen this before. It's as if you've seen a play three times. The fourth time you see it, you can almost say the lines along with the actors.