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Will Google Chrome Replace Your Browser, or Even Your OS?


Over at BusinessWeek, I was asked to share my thoughts on the initial launch of Google Chrome. I try to debunk any talk that Google Chrome is an attempt to replace your operating system and also tackle whether Google can steal market share from Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Here’s an extract:

It should come as little surprise that Google is entering the Web browser market. The search heavyweight already has a substantial stake in our online activities. Search, check! E-mail, check! Office documents, check! The list of Web applications offered by Google is both long and varied. With its goal of providing all of our online needs, it makes perfect sense that Google would step up and provide a Web browser built to accommodate its applications. With Chrome, Google is betting that more of us will move more of our computing from desktops to online, relying on the vast data centers known as "the cloud." But can Google’s Web browser singlehandedly entice us to dump a favorite Web browser and our computer’s operating system?

You can read the entire article at BusinessWeek. While you’re there, be sure to read the comments. It appears that Google’s fanboys are becoming just as blinkered as Apple’s. I’m a big fan of Google’s services, but it appears my attempt to look at Chrome with a balanced view ruffled a few feathers. (Who me, ruffle feathers?) ;-)

  • http://amzuri.wordpress.com Alexander M Zoltai

    I’ve taken Chrome for a spin and it’s replaced FireFox3 as my default browser.

    I’m a dedicated blogger and Google’s browser just fits my needs.

    [warning: feather-ruffler] Google is the best modern company in the world. Our world desperately needs innovation and Google is a mega-innovator!

    ~ Alex

    Alexander M Zoltai’s last blog post..Rationale for This Blog

  • http://www.saintger.com Saint Germain

    Google Chrome is very fast, but there are no extensions…. so i keep my Firefox.

    Saint Germain’s last blog post..Un atelier théatre dès 4 ans !

  • http://symbiancorner.blogspot.com Symbian

    Chrome can’t replace even my default browser because it doesn’t have any adblock plugin or feature.

    Symbian’s last blog post..Free VoIP Symbian app Fring now on Nokia E71

  • http://www.ineedahubcap.com Hubcaps

    Until i get all my search plugins, i’m sticking with firefox

  • http://www.majauskas.com giedrius

    I think chrome is an attempt to push Gear usage up. I think google “OS” is not so dependant on browser itself, but on better support of JS, gears and similar technology.
    For developer chome is about enough as it got css edition on the fly like firefox with firebug plugin. For a marketer, some plugins would be nice.

    giedrius’s last blog post..Chrome beta aka google browser issues

  • http://www.amiohayon.com Ami Ohayon

    I’m splitting the difference on this one … it may well replace my browser, but only for Google Apps. I can see myself running Chrome on one machine, Firefox on another.

    Ami Ohayon’s last blog post..From Jerusalem to Boston

  • http://www.3arn.net Abdul – 3arn.Net

    Well, I am still to check it out and I have a feeling that this cannot take over Firefox at any case especially after Firefox set a record after the release of Firefox 3, most internet users are Firefox fans (Including Me)!

    Abdul – 3arn.Net’s last blog post..Earn money on the Net by Blogging – Part 6

  • http://www.afpr.com Andy Finkle

    Chrome will never be an “OS”, but it will certainly make more people realize that the Internet is becoming the “OS”.
    Chrome will mean different things depending on who/what you are. The one thing it does mean to everyone though is that the Internet is the operating system, and the clouds are moving closer to earh.

    You are Apple;

    This means that if it were not enough of a conflict of interest (Iphone VS Google’s Android) to have Google CEO Eric Schmidt sit on your board – It is now. Look for Schmidt to resign sometime in the next six months.

    If you are Microsoft;

    This means that if you ever considered making Internet Explorer open source in the past, now is the time… You can not afford to wait, not even another minute. Expect Microsoft to make Vaporware like noise over the next few months about cloud widgets to give IE closer ties to cloud based initiatives.

    If you are Yahoo;

    you need to buy Mozilla.

    If you are Firefox;

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer…yes continue with your Google revenue deal, but learn how to monetize your Browser outside of a paid search deal. Leverage your large user base to form “spin-off” type “power of the crowd” businesses. Note to Firefox, hey you guys ARE a social network…you just haven’t figured that out yet.

    If you are Sun;

    Realize that Java is even less relevant every day. First we kicked you out of client side computing because you were a resource hog. Realize that Java will now continue to be less and less relevant on the Server. What a waste of a good company… McNealy must have got hit in the head with one to many hockey pucks.

    If you are a social network;

    “social networks” would follow along with users in the browser. Truth be told, we thought it would be Facebook, or even more likely Firefox that would lead in this initiative. So if you are a social network, you need to know now Chrome is the first step in a series of moves that will make it unnecessary for your peeeps to ever visit your site (directly) again.

    If you are an application developer;

    Life used to be simple, eh? You knew that you should be developing applications for Windows, because that is where the 100′s of millions of users were. Fast forward, and now you need to choose what platforms to support, and when. Of course it makes sense to develop for Windows still, but Apple now has a mass of millions of Mac OSx users, and if it a browser based app, write once for Safari, and it should work without much adaptation on the Iphone. There are over a billion cell phones in use world wide, however every phone requires writing to separately (yes even all those different flavors of Java are different phone to phone. Suddenly with Android coming, and a matching desktop browser you need to be here.

    Lastly if you are a consumer;

    There is always a bottleneck somewhere … Think back 5-10 years ago, before what we now refer to broadband… Dial up was painffulllllyy slow, and when you tried to browse, the bottleneck was in your “last mile” connectivity. Once you got broadband, the lag time in reaching a site was likely in your PC (not enough ram, slow processor, etc). Before either of those issues though it was the software that was not “smart” enough to keep up with the ever faster CPU’s being created.

    Look for Chrome to optimize all these new “cloud” based application initiatives like Google Gears, etc. This is just another nail in the coffin for desktop based computing. In 10 years, likely 90%+ of your applications will reside somewhere outside of your home or workplace – but certainly not on your desktop.

    http://www.twitter.com/A_F

    Andy Finkle’s last blog post..Google Chrome Browser – What this means to YOU

  • http://www.christmas.bg/ Christmas

    I like Google Chrome for being fast, and have already installed it. So I will say yes to Chrome

    Christmas’s last blog post..Traditional Christmas Tree Decorations

  • http://dude@kogmedia.com media boy

    i’ve been using Chrome for about a day now and it seems to be a lot faster than FireFox or IE… though i do miss the “recently closed tabs” feature in Firefox

  • http://webmasters-forum.org/ SEO forums

    I would like to give it a try.

    SEO forums’s last blog post..Changing a field to unique in MySQL database.

  • http://www.sannayak.com San Nayak

    I am so much used to browser tools and i don’t see that with Chrome, i guess i will wait to replace that with any of my other browsers like IE or firefox.

    San Nayak’s last blog post..BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Bartlett, Chicago, IL, 60103

  • http://mp3leben.com Tiffany

    I won’t use it because of privacy consideration.

  • Pingback: Google Chrome | MyHTPC.TV

  • Eric

    It’s a good browser, certainly. But, there are numerous security concerns and it almost seems optimized to promote ads…. so, that’s a little unsettling. As well, while it’s simple and easy to use, I feel it lacks the depth of features that other browsers have (Opera, Firefox with numerous extensions).

  • http://www.ebooks-with-reseller-rights.com/ James Mann

    Google lost my respect years ago. They think they are big enough to stomp on people with explaining why they are doing, leaving it up to us to prove we are innocent.

    I am quite happy with Firefox, they can keep the Chrome.

    James Mann’s last blog post..Bum Marketing In A Nutshell

  • http://www.gadgets-4-free.co.uk Mark Bobbins

    I’ve tried Chrome and it is very fast although I’m not sure this is enough to tempt me away from Firefox. I think only a bit of time using Chrome will tell which is the one for me.

  • http://www.bloggedintraffic.com Vlad Balan

    After Chrome will have a load of addons and if Google decides to really push it ahead, it will definitely have an amazing growth.

    Vlad Balan’s last blog post..Another cool premium WordPress theme, Unique Blog Design’s Citrus

  • http://www.skamid.com/ dimaks

    well, if it ever be, there will be a very long way for it to thread. we tried it at home with vista and it was unable to handle so many javascripts in a page – some of the images were also misplaced. it is true for being light and fast but still needs the basic equipments like those offered by firefox – extensions and adblocks for example.

    dimaks’s last blog post..Microsoft Office Live Is Coming, Beware Google Docs

  • http://freeipodsetc.co.uk iPod Fan

    I need my plugins. When Chrome gets them, that’ll be the time I’ll try it out. Firefox is very fast to me so will I notice any difference using Chrome?

  • http://www.christmas.bg/ Ashley

    I thing Google Chrome is worth trying, why not?

    Ashley’s last blog post..Jingle Bell Rock Lyrics

  • http://www.tmdesigner.it/tmdlayoutsesfondi.html tmdesigner

    Fast, light.. There’s only the Beta Version.. Real target and functions are not yet explained!

  • http://horisly.blogspot.com horisly

    nevertheless, i have tried the Chrome.
    though still many bug and compatibility problem, i like the simpleness.

    horisly’s last blog post..August.2008 Sales: Mercedes Benz Down 12 Percent

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    Chrome’s fast but we’ll see how fast it really is after installing add-ons on to it whenever they come out.

    I don’t want Google having any info anyway so to answer the question…”no.” I’ll stick to Firefox. If anything, I’ll use Flock more.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..Building an SEO Friendly Site – SES San Jose 2008 Presentation

  • http://www.trudysilcox.co.uk House Signs

    Im sticking with firefox for now, although chrome is good, it will ave teathing issues for a while. best to hold back for a while.

    House Signs’s last blog post..House Signs – Hand Painted Signs by Trudy Silcox

  • http://www.skamid.com/ dimaks

    i am sticking with fox and putting chrome on the side, for other purposes :) -entrecard dropping for example :D

    dimaks’s last blog post..UP Pep Squad won the 2008 UAAP Championship

  • http://www.chromevoice.com Michael Adams

    2 weeks after the launch of Chrome and what do we have?

    From a press perspective, we see the buzz slowly dying down.

    From a browser perspective, those that were going to adopt it have. Some love it and continue to use it. Some tried it and went back to Firefox.

    From a “change the world” standpoint, well…seems like this was a “shot across the bow” but nothing more has come of it yet. While there is no solid additional news on the next steps for development, or great new extensions, etc. people have made the connection between Chrome, Android, Gears, Google Web Toolkit, etc.

    Clarity is there that the combination of parts and pieces Google has released will form a new “operating environment” that will run on any OS, thus pushing the choice of OS to the backseat.

    Rather than worrying about Windows vs Linux vs MacOS, can you imagine people in the future thinking “All I need is Chrome”?

    Michael Adams’s last blog post..The 1, 2, 3 Punch of Chrome, Gears and Android

  • Brian

    I use Chrome at home for all my simple browsing activities — its fast, relatively lightweight, and has a clean, responsive interface. The OmniBox actually does live up to the hype!

    The lack of extensions though is a glaring oversight, and frankly a serious let-down by the company known for striving to “play nice”. There are a few extensions that are absolutely critical to the modern web surfer — number one being AdBlock.

    Of course I still use Firefox for ALL web development activities thanks to Firebug, which Google’s code browser — while much better than IE’s — doesn’t come close to replacing. In all likelihood, I’ll be developing on Firefox for several years to come.