The success of web browser Brave is a bad sign for Google – here’s why

Privacy-centric web browser Brave has surpassed 50 million active monthly users for the first time, the company has announced.

In a blog post, Brave says the milestone represents the fifth time the browser’s user base has doubled in as many years. The service also currently attracts more than 15 million daily active users, another high water mark.

Brave credits a range of new features and products for the continued growth, including an in-built crypto wallet and private search engine. But the company also acknowledged it has benefited from wider consumer trends.

“Users all over the world are looking for a private, safe and faster browsing experience, along with tools that give them independence from Big Tech. This long term and sustainable growth reflects that user desire,” said Brave.

A paradigm shift?

The uptake of privacy-centric browsers, VPNs, proxies, encrypted email and other privacy tools in recent years hints at a shift in attitudes that could have major ramifications for the largest technology companies in the world, whose businesses are predicated on the collection of vast amounts of data.

Since the Snowden leaks and Cambridge Analytica scandal in particular, public awareness of the importance of data privacy has risen steeply. Generally, consumers are more wary about the information they share with Big Tech companies, and more savvy about how their information is used and monetized in the data economy.

We suspect this trend may begin to register more clearly in the web browser market soon. Currently, Google Chrome dominates the space with a 63.8% market share, followed by Apple’s Safari (19.6%) and Microsoft Edge (4%). However, privacy-centric services operated by smaller players are beginning to gather steam.

Although Brave’s 50 million-strong user base represents just 1% of the market, based on data on the total number of web users from Statista, its rate of growth will give the likes of Google pause for thought. And that’s despite the inherent inconveniences; this writer can attest that Brave frequently breaks website functionality as a result of its no-tolerance policy on cookies.

Although Google has made a show of improving its privacy practices and planning for the demise of third-party cookies, proposed alternatives like FLoC have been panned by privacy advocates, who say the solutions create as many problems as they solve.

There is also plenty of evidence Big Tech companies still cannot be trusted to protect the interests of users. This week, for example, both Google and Facebook were slapped with significant fines for cookie-related breaches of EU privacy laws. The patience of consumers is surely wearing thin.

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Why a contact center could be key to your business success

With the pandemic forcing much of the world away from their offices and back home, the way we stay in contact with businesses has gone through a significant shift.

One perhaps unexpected beneficiary of these changes has been the much-maligned contact center. With shoppers unable to carry out returns or even ask a question as high street stores closed across the world, contact centers took on a whole new level of importance.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has long been a strong supporter of the work done by contact centers, with the company’s Amazon Connect platform helping power such facilities for companies across the globe. 

Going remote

Although it was initially launched before the pandemic, Amazon Connect has really come into its own in the last two years, Pasquale DeMaio, General Manager of Amazon Connect, told us at the recent AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. 

“Amazon Connect was built to allow for agents to be remote,” he said. “Connect was a little ahead of its time, [as] from day one we were designed to be fully cloud multi-tenant and also an enabled remote workforce.”

Following the initial spate of lockdown and shutdown orders across the globe, the company leapt into action to help its customers deal with the unprecedented change.

DeMaio says that 5,000 contact centers were set up using Amazon Connect in just March and April 2020, some in just a few hours.

“That was unheard of, to take a production workload in a single day,” he explained. “Historically you would have to hire very bespoke, professional services to build those types of things. And you would have to give a huge upfront commitments to it.”

“Instead, now you're in control and that brings that time down to weeks or months.” 

Amazon Web Services logo

(Image credit: Future / Mike Moore)

Amazon Connect saw a number of useful upgrades announced at AWS re:Invent 2021, perhaps the most intriguing being Amazon Lex Automated Chatbot Designer, a new capability that reduces bot design from weeks to hours, simplifying design with advanced natural language understanding.

DeMaio highlighted how using this new platform shows the importance of automation, as the tool can condense much of the contact center set-up experience, taking out time-consuming tasks and cutting out the most challenging issue for customers.

“This is giving you a massive jump,” he said, “you're getting up and running really fast and you can continue to innovate on it too because you're not stuck with just what you did. You keep learning and keep going and building these out and that innovation has been really compelling to folks who use Connect.”

Call center

(Image credit: Future)

So it seems that if you truly want your business to meet as many customers as possible, a contact center powered by Amazon Connect could be a vital tool.

DeMaio predicts that the increasing use of AI in the contact center industry is only set to grow, and that his platform can help spur on a revolution in customer relationships.

“The nature of customer service was already changing,” he noted. “The reality is people are just demanding better customer service – and this was certainly true during the pandemic – it changed their expectations about how the customer service would be delivered.”

“I think there is a revolution happening right now, with the AI and in the cloud-based technology that Connect offers,” added DeMaio. “This radically changes the way people can deliver the quality of customer service they had and it certainly made a practical point [to companies] that it might be the right time to make those investments.”

“They recognize that the power of a great outcome is really meaningful to people because sadly they've had other bad experiences in the past. A big part of what we're doing with Amazon Connect is taking these these capabilities, making it super simple to use, streamline the experience, and fitting it into exactly what they're doing.”

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