3rd September 2008, 09:32 AM
[News] Google's Chrome and the browser end game
Google's Chrome and the browser end game
The news that Google is launching its own open source browser, called Chrome, has understandably got the blogosphere all excited.
It's certainly the biggest news in the browser space since Firefox started to dent Internet Explorer's lead and many people see this as a re-ignition of the browser wars.
A few things struck me:
1. For all Mozilla's success with Firefox, it still only has a 20% market share globally. I'll be fascinated to see if the Google cachet and brand reach will be able to drive Chrome's success any higher than Firefox.
2. What does this mean for Firefox long term? Google is one of the biggest supporters of Firefox. It has contributed financially and in terms of development talent. According to PaidContent, "just last week Google extended its support of the Mozilla foundation until 2011".
Despite this, Mozilla will be feeling a little uncomfortable right now.
The two organisations are next door neighbours in Mountain View and I imagine the gnashing of teeth from Mozilla were easily heard across at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway.
3. What does this mean for Safari? Just like Safari, Chrome is built on the open source web kit browser. Does this boost Safari because they are a common platform? Or does it mean game over for Apple's hopes in the browser space? I suspect more of the latter.
4. This is going to mean more work for web developers. It may be based on open standards but undoubtedly web application designers are going to have to take into account the quirks and differences of Chrome to really exploit the browser.
5. Chrome is the open source desktop people have been demanding from Google for many years. Linux supporters have long been asking for Google to release a consumer version of the Linux OS Google itself uses internally. But Google has always resisted this. And because the browser is becoming as flexible as the desktop, Chrome, in many ways, is the open source OS people have been calling for.
6. Do we really need another browser? There's Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Camino, Flock and many, many others.
7. This is really about building a browser which leverages Google's own web applications and makes it more seamless to use functionality like Google Gears, which blurs the offline and online space. Just as Internet Explorer 8 ties in with Windows Live, Chrome will make the Google space more united.
8. We really need a better browser for mobiles and not desktops. Expect to see Chrome as part of Google's open source Android platform for mobiles.
3rd September 2008, 11:24 AM
Re: [News] Google's Chrome and the browser end game
WebKit is Apple's work in open source for Safari. They took KHTML that was used as the base for the Konqueror web browser used in KDE and fixed bugs and optimised it.
There are a number of browsers already based on WebKit and it really doesn't matter to Apple that another browser is based on their work. Safari will continue, especially since it's on Mac OS X, Windows, and iPhone's Mac OS X. If Safari on Windows loses some of its miniscule usage, will Apple notice?
Firefox may lose some share of online usage but it seems to gain a bit each month, in contrast to Internet Exploder. Opera will likely lose share on the desktop, as it does every time another browser is introduced but it has a great fan base and it continues to gain in the mobile phone market.
Considering that Google needs to test their browser prior to using it on the first Android-based phone, they definitely need the browser out there. If nothing else, it'll keep everyone else on their toes.
3rd September 2008, 11:30 AM