Since Google released its new web browser, Chrome, last week there has been so much chatter on the web about its features, how it stacks up to Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, & Safari, & maybe the most important question on everyone’s mind is why has Google developed its own web browser.
I immediately downloaded Chrome when I read about its release. I’m not an application download junkie; however, for a long time now I have been looking to replace Internet Explorer (IE) because too often I have a single browser tab that crashes & then I loose the five to ten active browser tabs I had open. Chrome promises to fix this problem by treating each browser tab as a separate application. When one browser tab crashes, the rest of your tabs should not be affected. After a few days of using Chrome, I was able to test this “functionality” for myself & it worked like a charm. I am forever a non-subscriber to IE & now a happy Chrome user. I’m also a big fan of Chrome’s one stop shop (a single text box) to type in known URLs & do my web searching. The auto completion feature when typing URLs & doing Internet searches is also a great bonus to me.
The BIG question though isn’t what feature do you like or don’t like; rather, why did Google release its own browser? My opinion points towards the mobile market space for web browsing. According to research conducted by Nielsen Mobile, in 2007 mobile Internet use generated over $5 billion in revenue for companies & in the first quarter of 2008 mobile Internet use accounted for a total of $1.7 billion in revenue. Nielsen’s research strongly suggests that we will see a rapid growth in consumer adoption & mobile marketing in the years ahead.
Chrome fits this mobile Internet niche well. Chrome is a very light weight application. The total size of the browser is just 7-megabytes, making it a good fit for the relatively small hard drives that exist in today’s mobile devices. Chrome’s small size makes it a quick & easy application to download to most mobile devices. Chrome also has a minimalist user interface & it nicely accommodates the display size of mobile devices with Internet access. Lastly, when Chrome is running it uses very little memory, making Chrome an ideal application for mobile devices that have limited memory size.
The market research firm ABI Research sees the mobile web browser segment of this market accounting for the vast majority of growth over the next five years. They predict that the number of highly functional mobile browsers shipping per year will grow from 76 million in 2007 to nearly 700 million in 2013. From where I sit Google is quickly putting all the pieces together to dominate this mobile market space. They have already released a number of API’s that will further enable the development of mobile applications & mobile mashups, they have now released the mobile browser (Chrome), & soon they will release the mobile operating system called Android.
The way I see it, Chrome was just one of the few remaining pieces that Google needed to position themselves as a leader in this new mobile market.