Not content with dominating online search, Google’s decision to enter the browser market has led to many labelling the move a further “declaration of war” against rivals such as Microsoft.
The move signals Google’s intentions to diversify and its commitment to innovation, although its history of new launches is hit- and-miss and none has been as successful as its initial search engine product.
Google Chrome is the latest release from the internet giant, designed to rival traditional web browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, which dominates the market.
Announcing the launch of Chrome in Google Blog, Sundar Pichai, the company’s vice-president of product management, said/ “We designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple… Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast.”
Global market share statistics from web analytics website getclicky.com show that the browser gained a 2.25% share of the market in the first week after its launch.
In contrast, Microsoft Internet Explorer dominates the global market with a 62% share. Microsoft’s domination of the browser market stems from its monopoly of pre-installed software. For every PC bought with a Microsoft operating system, Internet Explorer comes loaded as the default web browser – no download needed.
According to Nielsen, Internet Explorer remains the dominant browser in the UK market, being used by 75% of Britons online. Mozilla Firefox is used by 12% of British web users, followed by AOL – itself a version of Internet Explorer – with 8%. Those, say Nielsen, and a number of smaller browser brands are more realistic targets for Google than Microsoft.
Sandeep Aggarwall, an analyst at Collins Stewart, says: “Microsoft will always be a rival for Google, but Chrome is another key indicator that it is looking to get on top. The fact that in one week Google has almost caught up with Safari’s browser share is a sign that people will want to download and test this.”
Google was unable to provide figures on the number of users who have downloaded Chrome, but its competitors have played down the battle ahead of them.
Microsoft Internet Explorer product manager Dean Hachamovitch says: “The browser landscape is highly competitive, but people will choose Internet Explorer for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips.”
However, a Google spokesman says that frustrations with internet use, such as browsers closing for no apparent reason and tabs stalling, led to Google engineers creating Chrome.
Co-operation, not competition
“Chrome has been built as an application to cope with the modern internet, and the future applications that users will come to rely on,” he says, insisting it has not been launched to stamp out rivals.
“Chrome is not so much about competing for market share. That’s really why we made it an open-source platform – it’s about contributing to web browsers in general and making improvements available to all the market, as more people do more things online,” he adds.
Already, users are praising features including faster loading times and a system that means if one tab or window crashes, others open are not affected.
Yet its beta launch has not been without controversy: Google, approaching its tenth birthday, has already been forced to alter the Chrome user agreement after it initially called for users to lose the copyright of their own files.
It is not known when Chrome will exit its beta test phase, with some suggesting it may not. Google Mail, which was launched as a competitor to Microsoft’s Hotmail in 2004, is still in beta mode.