The browser wars are heating up again, with Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft as the main competitors. Google has announced its intentions to release several new versions in rapid succession, and Microsoft is pushing Internet Explorer 9. All the players realize that the stakes are higher than ever before, with more advertising dollars being poured onto the web, and with the boom of software as a cloud-based service. But ultimately, there is no question that Google is the strong favorite to win and for Chrome to become the dominant browser. Here’s why:
- Chrome was built for Web 2.0
- Google knows how people use the web
- Google provides a complete web package
- Users are getting smarter
Google has more information about people’s browsing habits than any other company, and therefore they have a huge advantage over the competition. Just where do they get all this information? Google Adsense and Google Analytics. Google analytics runs on a huge chunk of the top-500 websites, and all that information provides an invaluable insight into user’s behavior. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that Google Adsense can be used to gather the same data. (Adsense would be even more useful, since Google could track user’s behavior across websites.)
Google knows more about the average user’s screen resolution, color depth, machine performance, and usage patterns than anyone It’s impossible to overstate this advantage, and it’s one that must drive Microsoft mad with frustration. This knowledge provides Google with a direction of focusing its engineering resources, and allows them to pick up on new trends before anyone else.
When the desktop was king, Microsoft was without an equal; they made the operating system, the office suite, and the entertainment (remember Microsoft Flight Simulator, and all those other Microsoft games?). But as the pipe got wider and cloud-based applications grew in popularity, Microsoft was left in the dust and Google gained significant ground. Now, with Gmail, iGoogle, Google Apps, and YouTube, Google is positioned to provide a near-complete computing environment, all of it in the browser (hence the feasability of a Chrome OS, a direct threat to Microsoft on small formfactor devices).
Since it provides the services, Google has a unique opportunity for feature integration and interoperability when they provide the browser itself as well. If people use Google services already, and those services work even better in a Google browser, that’s a strong incentive to switch to Chrome; and since the user is already on a Google site, it’s free for Google to push an advertisement for their browser.
There will always be Internet Explorer users, even after Microsoft stops making Internet Explorer. Some people simply don’t know, or care, about so-called ‘alternative browsers.’ These are primarily the moms & dads and the computer illiterate. But on the whole, users are getting smarter about these things; that’s simply something that is going to happen as technology invades more aspects of our lives and kids grow up with iPads and smartphones. People are also spending more time online, which means that their choice of web browser actually becomes increasingly important. When you combine these two points, you realize that the once insurmountable advantage of Internet Explorer — that it is installed on all Windows-based machines by default — is rapidly losing its importance.
The proof is in the numbers. If you have a look at the latest browser trends you’ll see that Chrome’s adoption is actually speeding up, whereas Microsoft is losing ground and Firefox has leveled out. I predict that by 2012, we’ll see a higher number of Chrome than Firefox users.
Which browser do you use? Which browser do you think is the best? Do you use Chrome, or do you think it’s garbage? Leave your opinions in the comment section below!