Does Google’s open-source Chrome browser have the bright future that many people predicted it would upon its arrival a year ago — or is it yet another one of the search giant’s many software experiments? Despite charges that Google has dragged its feet in promoting Chrome, the browser has remained innovative, and there are now strong signs that it can wrest significant market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and advance overall innovation in browsers. Recently, a convergence of efforts from Google have helped push Chrome’s prospects, with indications of much more to come from the company.
After one year in existence, Google’s open-source browser has only 2.84 percent market share, while Internet Explorer has 66.97 percent and Mozilla Firefox (also open source) has 22.98 percent share and growing, according to NetApplications. Those numbers have caused many analysts to question whether Google has done enough to market its browser. The questions echo earlier concerns that many people had about whether Google was doing enough to promote its Android mobile operating system. Since those concerns were aired, though, the OS has shown signs of much more momentum, with almost 20 Android handsets due by the end of the year. There are some good reasons to believe that Chrome is about to do a similar zero-to-60 acceleration, and the three biggest ones are the company’s newfound willingness to spend money on high-profile deals with hardware makers; viable versions of Chrome for the Mac and Linux; and an upcoming open ecosystem of extensions for the browser.
In a move that could quickly be followed by similar deals, Google recently announced that it has partnered with consumer electronics giant Sony to make Chrome the default browser on all Sony VAIO computers. This is Chrome’s first distribution deal with a hardware vendor, and it’s hardly a small partnership. Many analysts are calling the deal a milestone — and it’s really a page right out of Microsoft’s playbook. A huge part of the reason why Internet Explorer has been leading browser market share is that Redmond has spent years striking deals with hardware vendors to make IE the default browser on their systems. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that many people will use, and continue to use, the browser that greets them when they unbox a new computer. That’s true for business users and consumers alike.