When you think of today’s internet landscape, Google’s overwhelming market share immediately comes to mind.
The latest reports show that Google accounts for nearly 87% of the global search market, while Chrome accounts for over 67% of the global browser market, boasting 2.65 billion users worldwide. As such, any startup building online tools should see themselves as a partner of the tech giant in some capacity, but this market control also means that Google can take advantage of its browser dominance and change regulations to its own way.
In fact, Google has built some restrictions on online startups into the fabric of Chrome over the past decade. Years ago, Google began enforcing a âone-time extensionâ policy, forcing developers to limit their extension to a single feature or browser feature.
More recently, Google rolled out plans for Manifest V3 – its new specification for building Chrome extensions that strives to improve user security and privacy. Essentially, the Chrome Web Store will no longer accept new extensions created using previous Manifest V2 guidelines from January 2022, and by the following year, any existing programs that do not meet Manifest V3 regulations. will be closed.
In this case, some startups face a life or death scenario – either spend time and resources adapting their product to Manifest V3, or cease to exist in Chrome altogether. Ghostery, my employer, faces this challenge as acutely as any other.
While these obstacles may seem daunting to some, Google is listening with open ears, eager to know how this might impact individual players in the space. It even extended the deployment timeline in an effort to gather more developer information, and startups should take full advantage of this timeline to publicize their specific migration challenges.
This Chrome update is just one example of how startups innovating online can have the rug pulled out from under them at any time and, as such, still need to allocate resources to both for keep abreast of these policies and have the appropriate engineers on deck to navigate these granular changes.
Still, there are some definite advantages to hosting your core business on the Internet, such as extended visibility, easy setup, and access to an enthusiastic user base. While tech giants like Google are willing to work alongside startups to find the best fit for all parties (and it sure looks like they are), it’s up to small businesses to take advantage of these communication channels. open and defend their product. offerings.
Use your network for help
Fortunately, not every startup has to face the changing Internet landscape alone. With a range of players working within the same ecosystem, companies have a vast network of related businesses to tap into for help and advice. Instead of feeling locked into their own challenges, startups in the online space should feel united by the constant change that affects all businesses in this ecosystem.
For example, we joined the W3C group for Web Extensions in the middle of navigating Manifest V3. In this community, we can share our use cases and collaborate with other relevant companies to adjust our technologies to align them with the latest guidelines. By pooling our resources and engaging in this cross-collaboration, we can resolve issues early in the adaptation process.
Whether it’s researching similar groups or even consulting directly with your network of founders and business leaders, relying on the startup community during these transitional times for general product and sales leadership is essential. .
Become adaptable in more than one way
In addition to proactively allocating resources to tailor your flagship product, startups innovating online must constantly re-evaluate their product roadmap and seek out unique opportunities to diversify their offerings.
It’s not two years in the history of the Internet, but one thing that remains constant is the desire of individuals to have customization options within this ecosystem – agile startups are ready to deliver the solutions they need. latest and greatest, from e-commerce tools to password protection systems, privacy suites and more.
For some companies, that might mean investing more time in product development outside of Chrome and researching the capabilities that Firefox, Safari, or other alternative browsers might provide. Since each tech giant has their own policies around browser customization, startups could open up to a whole new user base and create unique features that are compatible with separate systems.
Startups can also expand into the mobile sector and experiment with how their online innovations could work in the iOS or Android landscape. Ultimately, having a product line that spans the different corners of our online lives, from browser apps to mobile apps, will make your business resilient in the face of the ever-changing world of our online world. and it’s much easier to build that resilience if diversification is a part of your business plan from the start.
Embrace the constant change
Even though startups creating online tools and programs are constantly faced with changes in policy, regulatory changes, and market demands, those who are not afraid to partner with Big Tech and pursue an adaptable product strategy will always find a way to continue on their path towards providing consumers with the best products and experiences possible.
Remaining steadfast in your mission and being prepared to change your approach along the way will allow you to innovate successfully for years to come.