Why Chrome is a win-win for Google

For those that have been off-line for the last few days and without access to a television or other forms of old media, Google has announced and released the first version of its own web browser called Chrome (see ReadWriteWeb’s extensive coverage).

But do users and developers alike really need another browser? Google says that Chrome recognizes and builds on the best innovations of its competitors, but more importantly has built a web browser from the ground up to cope with the shift towards cloud computing in which the web has “evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications.”

“What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that’s what we set out to build”, says Google.

A few examples of how Google has put this into practice with Chrome include a faster JavaScript engine called V8, and “multi-threading” so that if a web app running in one tab crashes it won’t impact on the performance of other open pages/apps.

It’s highly debatable, of course, whether Google can be any more successful than others who have tried to grab market share from Microsoft who bundle its own Internet Explorer with the various flavors of its Windows operating system.

It could be argued, however, that whatever Chrome’s eventual market share, it serves as a win-win for Google. Here’s why:

Chrome’s technology and philosophy will gain market share

Either Chrome achieves significant market share for itself or its open source technology e.g. the V8 Javascript engine and the company’s own contributions to the open source WebKit rendering engine (also utilized by Apple, Adobe and Nokia) get picked up by competitors and improve the running of Google’s web apps and services anyway.

The whole web app-centric design and philosophy of the browser may also inspire others to follow e.g. if one ‘tab’ crashes it doesn’t impact the other open pages/apps.

Less money to pay out to competing browsers for ‘search’

Even a percentage point of market share is good for Google. Either because users ditch Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for Chrome, and in doing so move to Google.com for search and away from Windows Live OR users move from other competing browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox or Apple Safari, both of which Google pays to have the default search box set to Google.com.

The mobile web

Google has already confirmed that a version of Chrome will eventually be rolled into Android, the company’s own mobile operating system. So, like Apple’s sudden decision to release a Windows version of Safari (around the time that the iPhone was announced), adoption of Chrome will help serve developers writing Android-optimized versions of their web apps by having a desktop browser based on the same code/rendering engine and vice versa. Internet Explorer may dominate on the desktop but it barely has market share on mobile phones. Which browser will dominate the mobile web is still up for grabs.

What do readers think? With the release of Chrome, can Google possibly lose?


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

4 Responses to “Why Chrome is a win-win for Google”

  1. Mack D. Male says:

    IE8 has had the isolated tabs feature since March, so it’s not a completely new idea. I completely agree that Chrome is going to gain market share. Another benefit might just be that it will enable Google to build more intensive web apps in the future, as Chrome and other browsers get faster and more reliable.

  2. Dave Zatz says:

    Google won’t gain marketshare at the expense of IE, it’ll be at the expense of Firefox and Opera. Firefox also has a new JavaScript rendering engine which is supposed to be extremely efficient. My money’s on them – they’ve been building this thing a lot longer. As a consumer, what’s my motivation to switch?

    But Google can’t “lose” anything – they’ve got gobs of money to invest in any project they want and tons of influence on the web given their advertising network and #1 search engine.

  3. Katelyne says:

    Yes Microsoft is hard to beat but google will always be a winner. They just seem to have the brightest and the best!

  4. Albo P. Fossa says:

    I predict a 90% chance that Google will not develop a version for MacOSX.

    If one is to assume, as many do, that MacOSX is a “fringe” market, then Chrome may well be somewhat of a good thing for Google. Many Windows will find it appealing for its speed.

    Even a few Windows (and perhaps increasing) users are under the spell of Google services on Windows (gmail, picasa, documents, and even sites/apps).

    If access to all these is made significantly easier via Chrome, and if Chrome is a centerpiece of Android down the road, then Chrome can hardly fail.

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