This has been an interesting week in the quiet “browser war” that has been slowly emanating over the last few years. The leader of the pack, by a good margin, is still Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, followed by Firefox, and the Safari Mac browser. New to the foray is Google’s Chrome browser, launched this week to an astounding buzz and an industry full of question marks about the potential of how it will compete, what market share it can achieve, and what’s up Google’s sleeve.
It only makes sense for Google to have a browser. As the most powerful company in the internet industry develops new features and products, including a major play on the mobile OS with Android, having a significant piece of the browser market may help Google continue to provide the ubiquitous consistency of ‘Googleness’ throughout the online [ad supported] experience. They have already proven that they can compete in established markets such as free email, mapping, local listings…the list goes on.
IE & Safari are distributed through a self fulfilling distribution system – the machines in which they come pre-installed. Is Google’s dominant search position and ability to integrate Chrome links into many popular features and products such as Gmail enough to compete with built in distribution?
Firefox has proven that this mold can be broken and that consumers are willing to download an alternative browser if it does indeed offer a better value proposition. In fact, Firefox commands around a 20% market share, and continues to erode IE’s market share each year. Heck – in June when the Firefox 3 browser was released, it set a Guinness Book record of 8 million downloads on that one day alone. Considering that Mozilla, the parent company of Firefox, has had a close data and advertising relationship with Google throughout this growth phase, and Google has been Mozilla’s largest source of revenue, the release of the Chrome browser does stand to turn this relationship and Firefox’s position upside down. Only time will tell.
So what does this mean to us as marketers? Well, the advertising implications can be huge, and Google/Doubleclick having a browser with significant market share can equate to a significant amount of data and advertising. Moral of the story – keep your eyes on Chrome.
Speaking of data and advertising…
Let’s hope this does not turn into a feature that gains wide spread adoption.