Google Chrome has had a strange start to life. The browser is undoubtedly fast, and given it’s very new, has a lot of good features packed into it.
But where are the users? As Google took Chrome out of beta today , it revealed that the browser has gained 10m active users in its first 100 days. That sounds like a lot – until you compare it to others. Firefox – a rival browser that is more firmly established as the main alternative to Internet Explorer – has around 20 per cent of the browser market, compared to Chrome which is yet to break 1 per cent.
More worryingly, the usage stats for Chrome tailed off after launch, with Net Applications reporting Chrome at 0.78 per cent in September on its release, falling to 0.74 per cent in October. Chrome did rise to 0.83 per cent in November, but the 1 per cent mark is still a way off.
So perhaps pre-installing Chrome on PCs would help? Of course it would. Google’s UK managing director, Dennis Woodside, told the FT it would definitely bundle Chrome in 2009 earlier this year, but still no news about which OEM it will be with.
Can Google dominate the browser market? Well, if Firefox can build to 20 per cent of market share in 4 years, there’s no reason why Google can’t. The question is whether it takes IE’s share of the market, or Firefox’s fans. By being pre-installed, it may hurt IE, but the appeal of Chrome as opensource and for “serious” users is very similar to Firefox, so there may be an overlap there.
But the real battle is for your mobile, and that’s a much more level playing field in terms of OS, browsers and applications. Without a dominant player like the Microsoft-Windows-IE combination on the desktop, and many more potential internet users on mobiles than PCs, the mobile will be where browser wars are won and lost.
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