Chrome is out. Google has my vote

So Google Chrome was unleashed on the unsuspecting public yesterday with very little preceding hype. It enters a market that has thus far has had only two major players - Mozilla and Microsoft. Backed by marketing power that is unrivaled in the online world, it is strongly positioned to take both on (and especially Microsoft).

A web browser built on the webkit engine (same as Safari), Chrome offers a simple UI and extensive support for web technologies. Having used it for a couple of days now, it is striking to me how obvious it is that Google is a web company - in bold contrast to another software giant currently pushing for their next-gen browser.

There is a lot to like about Chrome: It is open-source. The tab oriented UI is a great innovation. The simple UI allows for an impressively large work area in the browser. It comes with a built in DOM inspector and Javascript debugger (almost rivaling Firebug for functionality). The tab/process manager is an awesome feature (though a possible source of contention). And most importantly - aside from minor inconsistencies from the standards (shared by Safari), all web sites render perfectly under Chrome.

I was somehow surprised though it only reaches a score of 79 on the acid3 test, since it is based on an engine that already scored a perfect 100 (webkit). For comparison, Firefox 3.0.1 achieves a score of 71 (though with less graphical glitches), IE7 achieves a measly score of 13 in about triple the time, and IE8 beta 2 just barely beats that with a very low 21.

It is my personal hope that Chrome steals enough market share from Microsoft to help push out older IE versions, thus catapulting the web forward. This has been a fantastic move by Google, and the online world is watching to see how the market will respond. Is a Google OS next on the agenda?

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  • Gregor

    But read this:
    http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/privacy.html?hl=en

    […]
    * When you type URLs or queries in the address bar, the letters you type are sent to Google so the Suggest feature can automatically recommend terms or URLs you may be looking for. If you choose to share usage statistics with Google and you accept a suggested query or URL, Google Chrome will send that information to Google as well[…]
    * If you navigate to a URL that does not exist, Google Chrome may send the URL to Google[…]
    * Your copy of Google Chrome includes one or more unique application numbers. These numbers and information about your installation of the browser (e.g., version number, language) will be sent to Google when you first install and use it and when Google Chrome automatically checks for updates.[…]
    […]

    Don’t be evil? Really?

  • http://www.robo47.net robo47

    Chrome is not really open-source, it is based on opensource like http://code.google.com/chromium/ but chrome itself is a bit more than only chromium and chromes Eula disallows all kind of usage of the chrome sourcecode:

    http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?hl=en

    10.2 You may not (and you may not permit anyone else to) copy, modify, create a derivative work of, reverse engineer, decompile or otherwise attempt to extract the source code of the Software or any part thereof, unless this is expressly permitted or required by law, or unless you have been specifically told that you may do so by Google, in writing.

    From my Point of View, that’s not really opensource.

  • http://www.rudibela.com/ Sasa Bogdanovic

    Eran, I doubt Chrome will push IE6 out of the market. My guess is that once customizations are available, tech savvy users would be those who would start using it more and more. Those using IE6 had enough choice even till now to make a switch, but they didn’t. Also, many of them are coming from the corporate world, where it is under company policies which software will be used, and you bet it would always be Microsoft. Furtherm0re, in such environments, the switch will be made from IE6 to IE7! Browsers are going through evolution rather than revolution.

    @Gregor – Google already knows a lot and this is just a cream on the cake, so it doesn’t make a big difference. For them, cake is already sweet, even without the cream :)

  • http://www.techfounder.net Eran Galperin

    @gregor:
    What makes you think other browser vendors don’t employ those tactics? at-least google is transparent about it.

    @Sasa:
    My take is that Google can succeed where Mozilla has failed (partially), because they have a much stronger marketing infrastructure and understanding. In the end, the success of a product is all about marketing.
    And if anyone can catch the attention of decision makers in large companies, it’s Google.

  • http://www.techfounder.net Eran Galperin

    @robo:
    Interesting, I wasn’t aware of this. So it’s more of a marketing gimmick than anything

  • http://www.rudibela.com/ Sasa Bogdanovic

    @Eran – Well, yes and no. Definitely you are right about the marketing capabilities of Google compared to Mozilla. However, many large companies do not opt for open source because they look for long-term stability covered with maintenance agreement at their software vendors and Microsoft is what they find. I speak from experience.
    In my company (over 50.00o thousand employees worldwide) Google almost entered with its Desktop Search, but yet again Microsoft prevailed. Needless to say that when office automation people install your PC, you get Windows XP with IE6. Upgrade to IE7 is scheduled later this year after acceptance has been made that no intranet applications are broken. Of course, not every company is like the one where I work, but many of them are.

  • http://www.techfounder.net Eran Galperin

    @sasa:

    At least things will be interesting :)
    And one can only hope…

  • http://www.phptalk.net/ Kai Sellgren

    I love Chrome. I simply cannot wait for the extension/plugin API. Once it is out, I will create a plugin called Paranoid Mode, which forces HTTPS connection to certain sites (e.g. bank sites) and forces all contents (images, CSS, JS, etc) to be loaded as HTTPS. Futher more, I will make the plugin to prevent Click Jacking attacks and I will make it to support .HTTPS and make sure it never caches anything.