The browser has been rumored for a very long time, and on the surface sounds like a great idea, but do we really need another web browser?
Google has long supported the Mozilla foundation and recently extended its agreement for search integration support until 2011, a deal that provides (some speculate) upto 85% of Mozilla’s revenue. Why then would Google see the need to build its own Web browser, built with competing technology no less. The new Chrome browser is said to be built on the Apple Webkit, the library that powers the Safari and IPhone browsers.
Just when Firefox seemed to be making serious headway into Internet Explorers dominant positions, we as developer will have another browser that we will need to build for and all the cross browser headaches that that brings. Thankfully they decided to use an existing rendering engine, rather than develop their own, which would have caused even more nightmares.
Consumer will have another serious option to consider for their browsing needs, and yes since many users make user of Googles search and other online products they will move to Chrome in droves. Will this be at the cost of Firefox or Internet Explorer?
From Googles standpoint I see how this makes sense. The north of $70M the search integration generates for Mozilla, would find a home with Google, and as Google moves everyone to using its web based applications, it needs to provide a better more controlled experience of those applications via a browser that it controls.
My fear comes from the story of Microsoft (yes Google is no Microsoft) who after it won the browser war with Netscape essentially abandoned its browser application, and only recent growth in Firefox has spurred it to innovate once again. What will Google do, when and probably if, it gains the market share it hopes. Will they continue to develop Chrome or will it too abandoned. I realize this is less likely with Google as they make all their money from the Internet, unlike Microsoft, and so unlikely to abandon their potential cash cow.
With most large companies though we’re never quite sure what we’re going to get, did anyone forsee Microsoft abandoning Internet Explorer after is battle with Netscape, and what will Google do after its battle with Firefox and Internet Explorer.
The beta release of Chrome for Windows users is now available for download. I’m updating this post with said beta. So far I’m reminded of when I switched from Mozilla to Firefox. The browser is fast, lightweight, and very clean (yep no clutter). All things that Firefox has lost as its become more mainstream. Will Chrome suffer the same fate, or will Google keep things in check. If Google can keep Chrome as a simple browser not a development platform, or OS that others are calling for I can see myself using Chrome when I’m not developing, but perhaps that has been the problem with other browsers, they try and be all things to all people instead of serving a specific audience.