Dear Arc

As an avid Safari fanatic, I’m reluctant to dive into a new browser backed by any company with a business model I find… elusive. I’ve been giving Arc a spin every few releases since signing up for the beta and each time it has improved a lot.

Just yesterday I was chatting with our creative director at work and said “Oh, you’re going to love Arc, we should try it and see how good it has gotten”. And yesterday I made Arc my default browser on the Mac. (!!)

I don’t want to understate how momentous this was. This was like when Woody (the cowboy character from Pixar’s Toy Stoy voiced by Tom Hanks, oh you know who Woody is why am I writing this?) finally ceded that Andy was getting older and he may just move on. Maybe that isn’t an apt analogy… this was like when Frodo decided he needed to leave the Fellowship for the safety of his companions…

I don’t know exactly what switching from Safari to Arc felt like on my Mac but it was a day OK?

But I still love Safari. And I think Sonoma’s version of Safari is going to be terrific. Especially since they are finally adding Profiles. Something every browser should have.

However, Arc is really well thought through. I know your team is iterating and listening to the community. I can see that through your communications and YouTube videos. You try stuff. Reverse it. Update it. Change it. I dig that. But this current version of Arc (1.5.1) is very good.

Here are my reservations, if I may lay them out here in public.

  1. I don’t know you. I know Apple. I know how Apple makes money. I know they don’t make money by selling my personal information to advertisers. I pay them, handsomely, for their well made products, software, and services. And I’m very happy to do so. I would love to pay you for Arc. I’m scared that you don’t allow me to pay for Arc.

  2. You used Chromium as your basis for Arc. I totally understand why – that Extension ecosystem! There is no way you chose it because it was an efficient resource user on the Mac or because the primary contributor to its open source code is an altruistic company whose business model aligns with your company’s values. The reason this scares me is that without picking through each line of Arc’s code I don’t know if you’ve unGoogled it enough.

That’s about it. So I think I have a few simple ideas that would help me (and, maybe others?) to go all in on Arc and keep it as my default browser.

  • Let me pay you. Whatever future business model you have in mind — I’m almost certain it is ads. I know you’ll make some money (hopefully a lot) from Google Search or something but I’m sure ads is somewhere in your pitch deck — let me opt out of that by paying you. I use a browser every single day all day. I would pay a fair price.
  • Give me a way to use Arc without an account. I don’t mind that you have an account signup in the app. I think it makes total sense to forge that bond between company and user. And I’m sure the Arc account will be useful. However, if you go belly up (and, let’s face it, if you’re venture backed the chances of you going belly up are incredibly high) I still want to be able to use Arc.

Whether or not you ever read this, or implement my ideas, I do want to say that the team has done a great job building a fine piece of software. Very well done.

Oh, two more things while I have you. Join the fediverse! How in the world hasn’t The Browser Company created their own Mastodon instance yet? @arc@thebrowser.company is like just begging to be a thing. And, the iPad app. Ship it!

Sincerely,
Colin

(Emailed to The Browser Company on August 30, 2023)

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