Monday, September 1, 2008

Browser Wars - Does Anyone Still Care?

It looks like tomorrow Google will release its own browser, code named, Chrome, to take on the likes of Explorer, Safari and FireFox to name but three.

I have no doubt it will bring some interesting features to the marketplace but surely this is too little, too late? In usual Google fashion, this will be a beta release intended to follow the maxim of "release early and iterate" so expect to find something that's far from baked.

Here's their challenge: it appears that this is intended to be more of a platform play in the longer run, but in order to win mind share now and build sufficient market share, Google somehow has to rise above the crowd and take over a large chunk of the existing market that's dominated by Explorer. And a great many of those users are often not especially tech-literate so ultimately what would draw them into taking the leap of faith necessary to download and use Chrome? Beats me, but we'll see tomorrow I suppose where this is all heading and what in the way of eye-candy Google is offering.

For my part I'm happy to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what others make of it. As Google themselves say, "To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the web." Indeed, which begs the question of why anyone should use Chrome rather than any of the other offerings today if all it does is fade into the background?? IE 7 fixed a lot of stability issues and Safari and FireFox have led the way with new innovations like tab browsing and private use.

Yeah, I'm being negative and probably shouldn't be. Driving innovation is what the Valley is all about and you have to give Google credit for not being afraid to push the envelope. It's also possible that there is some grand unification play here where Chrome is ideally suited to Android-based platforms and hence the real power is in the combination of more than one of their developments. Indeed, as pointed out elsewhere then perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye, and what with threading and its own Java engine then this is the first sight of what ultimately might become a a new operating system ultimately?

We'll see how this all plays out, I guess, but meanwhile at least the price is right ....

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