Google Chrome: Surfing Against the Tidal Wave
The personal-computer world today is effectively dominated by two main firms:
- 1975-foundedMicrosoft shines with its world-first operating system (OS) Windows, originally programmed in 1985, which totals more than 90% of the OS market share as of October 2009.
- The more recent firm 1998-founded Google Inc. took advantage of the rapid growth of the Internet in the past two decades to build a comparable hegemony in another market: search engines.
Google at first was just a simple algorithm, then progressively won the challenge against the giant Microsoft and the other search engines (AltaVista, Lycos…) to reach, as of November 2009, 85% of the market share. Google has developed a whole new business model and is the main responsible for several applications, all of which have had huge success (Maps, Translator, News, Mail…).
Such positive achievements and results made Google prone to develop its activities even more: as a result, in September 2008, the firm pre-announced the upcoming availability of 'Chrome', a brand new Web browser, to be officially launched three months later, in December 2008.
Before the launch of Chrome, the web-browser market was led by two actors. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the evident leader with a market share of 63%. However, its domination is threatened and its market share has steadily decreased over the past few years. In 2009 only, it went down from 70 to 63%, while rival Mozilla's Firefox has gone from 22 to 25%.
Internet Explorer's situation was the first argument in favour of the launch of Google Chrome. Recurrent user complaints about long-time flaws in both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox was the second main argument. However, as advantageous as these two points are, Google was well aware that great difficulties would have to be overcome. Even though the potential web-browser market is huge (1.7 billion computers are currently networked), the users of the two leading applications (representing about 90% of the total market) already have specific reason to use them:
- 90% of computers sold have Windows as the operating system, and Internet Explorer is for logical reasons already pre-installed on every one of them. A large majority of PC users want nothing more than a pleasant web-browsing experience, which means an easy-to-use and accessible functioning. Thus, Internet Explorer being built-in, already configured and instantly ready to use, they have no reason to change. The installation of a new web browser would cause unneeded annoyance and confusion.
- However, many customers have found numerous deficiency about Internet Explorer, in particular over security and stability matters. Mozilla Firefox fixed a large number of these flaws and, due to smart update system, is much quicker to resolve any reported anomaly. It has also proven to be more secure than Internet Explorer and thus caters to these users who are well aware of the dangers of using the Internet. Firefox also offers more customization through the large number of available add-ons. With that said, Firefox is often criticized because of its fairly high RAM usage, causing slowdowns on older computers.
By launching Chrome, Google has two main objectives. First, it wants to widen its already huge brand awareness by developing its activities even more. The aim is to ultimately create a virtuous circle, where Google uses its 300-million-visits-a-day webpage to promote its new browser, which will in turn showcase the other Google services.
Secondly, Google wants to compete with existing browsers by offering a better, more viable alternative, which is made possible by the late-entrant status of the firm in this market. Chrome will take advantage of the recent technology improvements to offer a modern, up-to-date product. This results in the fastest and lightest browser available thus far, using a clearly different approach than its competitors by displaying a minimalistic interface, but also the most secure because of smart 'crashing' and updating systems.