Google Chrome Shakes Browser Market
Google announces Chrome, a Web browser that will challenge Internet Explorer, Firefox and other market leaders.
Just days after Microsoft released the second beta of Internet Explorer 8, Google Inc. unexpectedly made what could be its largest assault on Redmond to date -- the release of its own Web browser.
Called Chrome, the first beta of Google's open source Web browser promises to shake up a sector now dominated by Microsoft's IE, Mozilla Foundation's Firefox and -- to a lesser extent -- Opera and Apple Safari.
Chrome takes advantage of WebKit, the open source rendering engine also used in Google's forthcoming Android platform, which the company is rolling out for mobile handsets. In a blog post by Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, the company's engineering director, they state that WebKit makes more efficient use of system memory than other Web-rendering engines.
Forrester Research Inc. analyst Redwan Iqbal praises some of the ideas in Chrome, but says Google faces an uphill battle against established browsers. "I don't think there will be a big market impact unless there are radical performance differences. There's little pain for Chrome to heal."
But IDC Program Director Al Hilwa claims that Chrome is setting its sights higher. He says Google could actually act on what Netscape could only talk about back in the 1990s: transforming the browser into an operating system.
"Good ideas are not enough. You need power players," Hilwa says. "This is Google's platform play: It's really becoming the new operating system, and over time this is going to be a significant threat [to Microsoft]."
Google took the unconventional approach of describing how Chrome works in an online comic strip, which can be seen by clicking here.
"We're applying the same kind of process isolation you find in modern operating systems," Google software engineer Arnaud Weber is portrayed as saying in the comic strip.
Google's largest challenge with Chrome may not be technical, says M. Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Park City, Utah-based management consulting firm Janco Associates Inc. He says Google will have to improve its responsiveness to customers if it hopes for Chrome to shine.
"The quality of their interaction with their customers today is poor at best," Janulaitis says.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.