How will Dolphin Browser be ruined in order to make it profitable?
August 25, 2012 1:38 PM   Subscribe

How is Dolphin Browser (formerly Dolphin HD) going to make money? It seems to be a company with no revenue plan. Should I be worried?

I grabbed the Dolphin Browser from the app store on a recommendation and it's by far the best browser I've used on a phone (and I've had a Treo, Windows 6.2, Blackberry, iPhone 4 - all work phones from the same company in 6 years, if you can believe it).

For my personal phone, I have a Gingerbread Android phone (running Cyanogenmod, of course). So, I like the browser, and go look for the paid version. One of the great things about these app stores is you can pay developers and not worry about shady "monetization" schemes based on your private info (or, I guess, worry less).

But there's no paid version. And they have no other apps, except a beta version of their upcoming, still free browser. And there's no advertising. So, I figure they must be planning to track everything you do on the internet and sell it to your insurance company and mother-in-law. But they have what looks like a clean privacy policy, although good luck making it to the end.

Then I find out they have some links to China that are not quite explained. Either it's a Chinese company, or not; it's not really clearly defined anywhere. It's not that that would necessarily be a problem, it's that they seem evasive about it.

So, I can't load chrome, which I know will be tracking and reporting everything I do, because my phone isn't ICS compatible. I just don't get it. How will they make money?
posted by toothless joe to Technology (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
VC funding followed by an acquisition. So don't get too attached.
posted by Lazlo at 1:49 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked the original version of Dolphin from about 3 years ago, but then they went and reskinned it and changed it, and I removed it.

These days I use Chrome, simply because it works, and syncs with my desktop Chrome browser. I also use the newest version of Opera because it's fast, has a ton of functionality, and also syncs across devices and machines.

The stock Android browser that ships with Sense UI has notably improved over the past year or so, but Chrome does a fine job. And with Chrome and Opera, at least I have a general understanding of what personal information is being tracked and stored.

With Dolphin, it seems so, so, sketchy.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2012

It's still a work in progress, but Firefox for Android works pretty darn well these days, and it's backed by a non-profit (Mozilla) with a great track record for advancing user choice and user privacy.

As for Dolphin, there are plenty of non-evil monetization strategies it could follow: Dolphin defaults to Google for search, and only offers Bing and Yahoo as alternatives. Facebook, Google, and Youtube are the only pre-loaded gesture shortcuts. The new tab page links to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and a random wallpaper site. The bookmarks are pre-loaded with a wallpaper site, Wikipedia, YouTube, IMDB, Bing, the Weather Channel, and Amazon. It's likely that most of these are paid placements.

The "Dolphin Browser Cloud Service" defaults to connecting with Facebook and requests basic profile info and your email address. You can log in with Google or a one-off Dolphin account, but they're hidden by default, encouraging users to connect with Facebook. The new tab page advertises "Hot Android Apps," which takes you to an app store run by Dolphin. These may indicate that they have an incentive to monitor your browsing and advertise to you based on that.
posted by SemiSophos at 6:33 PM on August 25, 2012

One of the great things about these app stores is you can pay developers and not worry about shady "monetization" schemes based on your private info (or, I guess, worry less).

I read an article a while back (on the blue?) where someone had logged the network traffic of the free and paid versions of popular apps. The paid ones didn't serve user-visible ads, but carried out exactly the same tracking/reporting of user activities. I don't think you can assume that just because you paid to be ad-free you've also opted out of being a valuable piece of demographic info.
posted by russm at 8:46 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

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