Why has Viasat (Exede/Wildblue) created Sparrow?

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I have a question ....why has  Viasat  spent (presumably a lot) of money creating  and maintaining  it's own browser?
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Charlie Clark

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Posted 11 months ago

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Bradley

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Speculation, but creating a browser that operates very quickly with their service helps end user experience. Doesn’t help streaming Netflix, but it is a fast browser that conserves data.
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Charlie Clark

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OK I have seen the speed comparisons but I must have missed where they say Sparrow transfers less data (and how much?) vs Chrome etc.   Loading the same WEB page Sparrow can really transfer less data?
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Bradley

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It has a built in ad blocker. I suppose using similar add ones with chrome would yield similar results data wise. I’ve seen some pics to make me believe data images are a little “softer”, but that was denied. It’s basically chrome with some proprietary things added specific to the satellite experience. The ad blocker would yield massive data savings with any web browser.
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Bradley

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There was a post at one point that had the patents listed. Too lazy to find it at the moment.
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Charlie Clark

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Bradley, Thanks for all your comments and information. I already use ABP on my Chrome so Ads are not my problem. Obviously not really sure I want to switch to a proprietary browser (especially beta) that is owned by Viasat.
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Bradley

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In honesty, it’s worked really well so far for me. Better than chrome? Probably will be going forward. I’ve not seen a single negative on it so far, but betas are always a crapshoot of sorts :).
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DavidBrowserGuy, Browser Expert

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Hi Charlie,

We tested the ABP (Adblock Plus) extension extensively, but recommend the uBlock Origin extension instead for the following reasons:

  • Page load times with ABP are about the same or slower than with no adblocking, whereas page load times with uBlock Origin are faster.
  • ABP does not significantly reduce the amount of bytes that are downloaded whereas uBlock Origin provides significant byte savings.
  • uBlock Origin blocks most privacy trackers, giving you a more private browsing experience.

AdBlock Plus makes its revenue by charging advertisers to whitelist their ads, as described in this article: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-adblock-plus-makes-money-2015-12, so many of the mainstream ad exchanges and trackers aren’t blocked.  uBlock Origin is run by the open source community and is completely not-for-profit.
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Bev, Champion

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Sparrow had built in media blocking, blocks tracking and more, not just ads and, it's being developed with metered data in mind.

It is also a browser that learns, and as you use it, the sites you visit most often get faster and faster. It learns to predict what you want, saves a lot of typing and, can prefetch those sites so they load fast when you choose the one you want - all while keeping data usage well in hand.
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Charlie Clark

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Yeah it is the "learning what I do" and so "predicting what I want" (Windows Cortana like) that is exactly why I am suspicious of this offering from Viasat.
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DavidBrowserGuy, Browser Expert

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Charlie,

We are seeking to provide users with a faster and more private experience, so we are not tracking browsers in any way whatsoever.  Specifically, the browser doesn’t learn what you do.  It learns about a particular site based on what everyone does.  For example, it aggregates information from all of the clicks to www.viasat.com to provide hints about how to load that site faster.  The browser doesn't employ serial numbers or unique IDs, track by IP or Mac, or use session information or other information that could potentially allow someone to reconstruct a browsing history.
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Charlie Clark

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Thank you that sounds much better. I will give it a try.

One last question. IF at a later date I chose to leave Viasat and use some other internet provider will I be able to still use Sparrow?
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DavidBrowserGuy, Browser Expert

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We hope that we will continue to be your Internet provider of choice, but should you choose to leave, you may still use the browser.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Technically it's not built-in ad blocking but rather it's automatically installed with uBlock origin - you have a choice to either enable or not on first install; similarly you can remove the uBlock extension and replace with another ad blocker of your choice. The data savings are currently a result of ad blocking (which can be accomplished with any browser); however, there are some changes coming in the form of setting and configuring default behavior of HTML5 media which will conserve even more data.         

FWIW to the original poster, it's built off of the Chromium based open source (which is what Chrome is built off of). So it's not a new browser developed entirely from the ground up - regardless not a trivial development effort. There appear to be some tweaks to the source code targetting the challenge of satellite internet connections - in particular some speed gains due to its crowd sourced learning mode - much of the prior acceleration gains (web accelerator technology and the original Accelenet) were being negated as more sites switched to secure connections - moving some of the acceleration to the browser level overcomes some of the losses due to secure connections (i.e. you can't perform deep packet inspection on a secure connection but at the browser level it's no longer encrypted obviously).

At least that's the way I see it, but could be wrong... it's a good attempt to overcome some limitiations of satellite (knowing your installed base always helps).

P.S. As for the patents mention above:

https://patents.google.com/?q=web+browsing&assignee=viasat   
(Edited)
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James

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so that they can harvest better information about you to sell your browsing habits and share it with uncle sam why else?
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Uhm... to provide a better browsing experience for those who rely on satellite internet connections through Viasat. The standard browsers make too many assumptions about a user's connection without taking into account the limitations imposed by satellite internet (whether that be severe data caps, speed, latency, etc). It specifically targets the Viasat environment. Really nothing more than that being the rationale... while at the same time ensuring an ad blocker is installed - something everyone around here has recognized as being a necessity for browsing since day one of signing up (well apparently not everybody) - I'm looking forward to some  other data usage tweaks that I suggested and were approved.  

Try reading the privacy policy at:

http://www.browser.exede.net/app/privacypolicy.html

Put the tin foil down, step away from the computer and unplug your ethernet cable permanently  - you're going to hurt yourself. It's a good faith effort to provide subscribers with a better browsing experience - use it or don't, it's your choice.
(Edited)
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James

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its a mixture of chrome and firefox rebranded and tweeked at least according to the source code
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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No, it's based on Chromium (the open source project upon which Chrome is based) and that's been stated by the director of project management whom I have no reason to doubt - as a result appearance wise it's much the same as Chrome - as an open source project anyone can take that source and create their own branded browser. Viasat has simply tweaked it for it's own specific requirements.

See: https://www.chromium.org/ and https://www.raymond.cc/blog/chromium-browser-alternatives-with-extra-features/          
(Edited)