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Stephen Logan

Yahoo to Join the Internet Browser Battle Royal

24th May 2012 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

Does the world really need a new multi-platform Internet browser? Yahoo! seems to think so. Suspend your disbelief for a while though, as we take a quick look at Axis, the new browser for iOS and desktops.

The dust has barely settled since some claimed that Google Chrome had finally eclipsed Internet Explorer (a claim that has since been refuted by the Guardian, among others) as the world’s most popular browser and now we may have another name to add into the mix: Axis. Except it’s not like the rest, apparently.

For a start, it has been designed with mobile users in mind; albeit not those using Android devices – yet. Offering a customisable front page (where have we seen that before), on which you can save your favourite sites, articles and other media bits. It provides a more visual navigation than most other browsers out there and ties mobile usage with desktops and tablets. As such, if you load something up on your iPhone, you can recover it when you fire up the laptop.

Unfortunately, apart from the aesthetic element of Axis, it doesn’t offer much that isn’t already available. Whilst it might prove popular amongst Apple users, those on Android devices can already enjoy Chrome across all platforms. In a similar manner to Yahoo’s browser, Chrome enables logged-in users to access tabs left open elsewhere, creating a near flawless browsing experience.

The news doesn’t get a whole deal better when you consider that the desktop browser is actually just a plug-in. Therefore, you can download it and use it as part of your existing Chrome, IE, Firefox or Opera browser – rather than a standalone piece of software. By sitting in the corner of your browser, eagerly awaiting activation, it could either provide a useful go-to for users or be another unnecessary irritant.

It’s hardly big news that Yahoo! are in need of a pick-me-up at the moment. They have had more bad press in the last 12 months than at any point in their rollercoaster history. However, is Axis the tonic the company so desperately need? Will iPhone and iPad owners be rushing to download a Yahoo! browser? Have they missed the boat or is this revolutionary enough to make them a major player in a new market?

The fact that they haven’t yet created anything for Android and the desktop version is, in the words of Mashable, an afterthought, doesn’t bode well. However, the real litmus test will come when it is available to Apple mobile device owners in the US (a market in which Yahoo! still has a genuine foothold). The concept looks interesting and the aesthetics are genuinely eye catching (as you can see in their official post), but it has to resonate with a tech-savvy audience who may not have used Yahoo! for years – if ever?

We shall have to wait and see how it fairs, whether it will be the tech that turns things around or is just another in a long list of glorious failures remains to be seen.

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