First, it was Chrome Apps. Now, it seems that Chrome browser extensions are the next targets of Google’s Chrome Web Store cleanup. While extensions aren’t going away completely, there might be a great culling in the coming months all the way to February next year when Google completely disables its built-in payment system that would force paid Chrome extensions to use their own payment system or, more likely, to disappear or die out.
Browser extensions were once a point of pride for the likes of Chrome and Firefox but, of late, they have become liabilities more than assets. That’s especially the case when mobile versions of the browsers don’t even support some of the most popular extensions, which further makes them look less appealing. Save for a few notable ones, particularly those for ad-blocking or password management, extensions have largely gone out of fashion over the past years.
The situation may have been worse for Chrome extensions you had to pay for, which may surprise many users that don’t even know they exist. That may have been the case to the point that Google has decided it was pointless to continue supporting the Chrome Web Store’s payment system which could be used as a vector of attack for hacking the store.
To be clear, Google isn’t killing off paid Chrome extensions completely but that may very well be the end result. What it is technically doing is shutting down the payment system used by developers of these extensions, forcing them to look for their own payment solutions to use. Unless they’re a big developer or have a popular extension, however, they might simply be forced to put up the extension for free or remove them entirely.
Developers have until February 1 next year to make the necessary arrangements, though free trials will already be disabled by December 1. Google itself says that the Web has come a long way since the Chrome Web Store launched and this move could see a culling of many paid but abandoned extensions in the process. It also makes extension development look less attractive from a business point of view and eventually kill off that market entirely.