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Google’s Green Message In Conflict With Google Chrome For Mac

Jul 15, 2011   //   by Jens Buch   //   Green  //  1 Comment

google green‘Being Green’ has become a widely used marketing message from leading tech companies. This is also the case for google. They have even dedicated an entire section of their website and $780 million on being green and energy efficient etc etc. Very good and very nice. But google could become seriously greener by simply looking at their software engineering for their web browser Google Chrome for Mac.

Let me share my story and view with you.

Like millions of other people, I am all for being green, but also like millions of other people, I do not cut the electricity of my energy hungry computer setup, tv, stereo – the list goes on and on. I have it all on standby when I don’t use it – yet knowing that it is still using serious amounts of energy. Yes, it adds up on my¬† electricity bill – but so be it. I should care, but I don’t and I am getting of the point of this post now anyway :)

So after the motherboard of my highly loved 3-year-old macbook pro decided to give up on me, I was forced to get a new one (fuck investing 600 EUR in an old computer to get it repaired). The amazing apple engineers have managed to produce laptops with significantly longer battery life which was something I was seriously looking forward to. Going from 2-3 to 6-7 hours of battery life on one charge is awesome after all.

Google Chrome really is draining my battery life

I got the new baby and recovered the settings/software etc from my apple time capsule and a few hours later I had my old computer back inside a new piece of hardware. It did not take long before I noticed that I am NOT getting the 6-7 hours of battery life as promised by apple. Being the tech geek that I am, I went through various tech forums to find out why this was. It did not take long until I read about google’s web browser Chrome being the cause for all this.

Check out the screenshot from the battery life indicator while Chrome IS running.
google chrome running
And now see the battery life indicator while Chrome IS NOT running.
So holy shit – this is actually true. Google Chrome is really the cause for my battery life to be far below what it should be. That sucks major time – especially as running Apple’s Safari does not impact the battery to anywhere near the same extent (firefox also causes more energy use, but nowhere near the same as Chrome).

What this means for energy consumption

Let’s get back to ‘green’. I don’t want to be like an idiotic corporate strategy consultant, but putting together a little energy calculation is needed here.
If Chrome causes my computer to use 2x as much energy, I will also need to charge it 2x as often when using Chrome. Therefore using 2x as much electricity out of my electric socket.

I looked around the internet for ages trying to find out how much energy is actually used to charge a macbook pro 15″, but couldn’t find it. Anyway – it doesn’t matter right now. According to Wikipedia, Chrome’s rising market share is currently somewhere around the 15% mark while apple has just over 10% of the US PC market with about 1.8m devices sold per quarter. That means every quarter about a quarter of a million additional mac users are using google chrome in the US alone. OK, this is getting confusing now and these numbers really need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

What now?

My point is, that if so many people need to charge their macbooks 2x as often, we are looking at a fucking lot of energy consumption here that is not necessary when the apple and firefox guys were able to develop a web browser that does not use as much energy. So here is my suggestion to google. Why not take some of the $780 million in your ‘green fund’ and put it towards engineering a version of Chrome that takes it easy on the energy consumption. It would leave macbook Chrome users with longer lasting batteries and cheaper electricity bills while making google’s green effort look more genuine and something people can relate to.

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Thank you for your time – if you have additional input or comments, add them in the comments section. I keep and eye on it and will reply to them so that you are not talking to a wall ;)