Google is integrating its Bookmarks service with its Chrome web browser. The service will allow users to link their local bookmarks and browser data with the Google cloud, letting bookmarks be automatically backed up and shared with the cloud. The search giant used to offer this same feature as a FireFox plug-in called Google Browser Sync, but the company “phased out” the product with the launch of Firefox 3 — and never offered any real reasoning for it. The company still offers access to the Bookmarks service in Firefox through the Google Toolbar, but there is no synchronization between local and cloud-stored bookmarks. It is kind of surprising that, as a Google product, Chrome didn’t have this sort of integration from the beginning.
This isn’t even about bookmarks. This is the first step of many to unite the desktop and the cloud. With Chrome OS, synchronization of data between a laptop and Google’s servers will be a huge selling point (or detraction, for privacy advocates), if the company can make it work seamlessly. After the brouhaha over the lack of viability for web apps on the iPhone — see Google’s lackluster Latitude “web app” — I am skeptical that Google can make an all-web-apps-all-the-time platform work on a full-fledged netbook, as it seems to be trying to do with Chrome OS. The company has been pushing the cloud pretty hard lately. This morning, Google announced it was launching a billboard-based ad campaign focused at getting IT staff to “Go Google” and switch their companies over to Google’s Apps platform.
Bookmarks sync on Chrome has been a requested feature for a while. Last December, a Google employee hinted that it was coming soon, saying “baked-in integration” between Chrome and Google Bookmarks was “definitely on our minds.” Apple has offered bookmark syncing between the browser and its MobileMe/DotMac service for years, though for some reason, the company removed online access to the bookmarks when MobileMe was rolled out. Popular browser add-on Xmarks is similar, and works on Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari — not just Chrome.