The Significance of Google Chrome

by Joe Havelick 13. September 2008 17:28

Why would Google decide to throw it's hat in the ring of the current browser wars?  Chrome represents a win/win scenario for Google since innovations in the browser market are quickly and uniformly adopted by the few competitors.  How quickly did IE change it's interface around in IE 7 to include tabbed browsing and other new feature once Firefox became a viable threat to their market share?  Google has placed Chrome out into the world as a proof of concept for several key features of which their core business plan depends heavily on.  Particularly:

  1. Vast performance improvements on JavaScript processing
  2. Isolation of each open page within individual processes
  3. Integration with Google Gears/Application Shortcuts

Even if the major players in the browser war simply adopt some of the innovations in Chrome, Google still comes out ahead.  Google foresees the decline of the desktop OS and the shift towards cloud computing.  Having already developed a reputable suite of web-based applications, the current shortcomings include the lack of a stable platform which manifests itself in two areas. 

First, there remains a lack of a consistent and reliable connection to the internet.  The idea of a web application is not appealing if you're not going to be able to pop open a document or presentation for review and revision in an airplane without connectivity to the web.  To counter that, Google has developed the Google Gears toolkit, which allows for seamless us of web applications, regardless of current connectivity. 

Second, the lack of a reliable, fast, and stable platform (which in this case, is a browser).  Google has done a remarkable job creating applications which function smoothly and quickly using the current implementation of JavaScript.  However, it has it's limits.  It was never designed to handle full fledged applications, and is prone to both performance and stability issues when utilized as such.  V8 is a all new engine designed from the ground up with performance and stability in mind, giving Google a solid platform on which to develop their web applications.  Additionally, the isolation of applications within their own processes provides a more forgiving environment in the case (god forbid) of an application error which crashes the process.

So really, if IE, Firefox, and other browsers adopt some of these changes, which they are most likely to do in order to remain as competitive as possible, they're simply playing into the hands of Google.  For Microsoft, this represent a most interesting decision, since they are not only in the browser market with Google, but the web application framework (Silverlight), and cloud computing markets.  Smooth move by Google.

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