Google Enters Browser Competition with Chrome

Google Chrome Logo

Google Chrome Logo

Internet behemoth Google took a major step towards their mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” with their recent beta release of the Chrome web browser. With typical Google focus on simplicity and functionality, Chrome shakes up the usual web browser display a little.

In choosing to release the browsers as open source software Google looks to want to tap into the same type of vast volunteer developer community that has made platforms such as FireFox and WordPress so immensely popular.

First Impressions

The first thing you might notice when using Chrome is that the browser tabs, first made popular with FireFox but now are fixtures all the major browsers, are at the very top of the browser instead beneath the tool bars.

A menu bar is conspicuously absent a la IE7. But perhaps more noticeable is the missing search box. I expected a search giant like Google to make a search box the prominent feature.

Instead they took a different tack and integrated the search function right into the address bar. Very slick, even if it will take a bit of getting used to.

Google Chrome Logo

Simon says, "Think of me when you see the Google Chrome logo."

Simon says: Think of me when you see the Google Chrome Logo.

My first thought when I saw the Google Chrome Logo was that it reminded me of the old Simon game I had when I was a kid. I don’t know if similarity is something intentional by the marketing and graphic design folks who developed the logo.

But I am not the only one who thinks they look a little similar. Of course how many combinations of Google’s primary colors can there be?

Technical Stuff

On the technical side Chrome is currently only available for Windows XP and Vista. Mac and Unix versions are in the works but Google isn’t hinting at how long they may be. As primarily a Mac user I had to go over to one of my older XP machines to even try Chrome.

I understand the logic behind releasing the Windows version first. But I won’t really use Chrome much at all until the Mac version is available.

Chrome uses Webkit rendering engine which was originally created by Apple engineers for their Safari browser. I’m not sure that means a whole lot one way or another for the average user beyond the fact that Webkit makes for standards compliant rendering which hopefully will mean that sites that look good in Safari will continue to look good when viewed with Chrome. Keep your fingers crossed on that one.

Chrome developers prioritized security. These days there are tons of ways the bad guys can do nefarious things via web browsers. The Google folks thought through a lot of this when developing Chrome. They’ve employed techniques including blacklisting known rogue sites, sandboxing, anti-phishing features and an “incognito” mode to help protect users. These should help Chrome stand up competitively to other browsers.

The technical area where Chrome really shines is in it’s javascript engine. Javascript is used to power many of the more interesting and user-friendly portions of the web. All sorts of things like navigation, widgets, animation, form presentation, localization and statistics tracking are increasingly being presented on web sites via javascript. Google sites such as Gmail and Google Reader use a lot of javascript. Even WordPress is starting to use javascript to make their dashboard interface more user friendly.

Google Chrome renders these scripts much faster than other browsers. I think that is the single biggest advantage it has right now, and it’s a big one.

Web “Applications”

In the marketing for Chrome Google makes a big deal out of the web moving from web sites to web “applications”.  I get that.

It seems to me that the trend is towards on line web based programs and away from programs based on individual local computers. Obviously this is a trend that Google is heavily invested in with services Gmail, Google Apps, Google Docs, and Google Reader they may be looking to compete with local operating systems like Windows and Apple’s OS X. 

With Chrome, Google has made it easy to place a shortcut on your desktop to a web site. Simply click on the “Control the current page” icon over on the left and select the “Create application shortcuts…” option. A screen will pop up with the options to add shortcuts to the desktop, start menu and quick launch bar.

When Chrome opens one of those shortcuts it will open the site in sort of an “application mode.” Chrome strips out the tabs, address bar, and bookmarks bar and presents the web site in a clean presentation as though it were a program operating on your computer.

It’s a different way to look at web sites. And I think it is shades of things to come from Google.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is I think Google has entered the web browser business with plans to stay long term. Their first beta release shows promise.

I think Chrome is a shot across the bow of the big operating system companies like Microsoft & Apple. Google seems to be looking to refocus the marketplace in the direction of a web based “operating system” in which the individual computer with it’s web browser is simply the access point.

Sure it’s got a long way to go yet. And maybe I’m way off base.

Either way until the Mac version hits the streets Google Chrome won’t be something I’ll use much.

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Comments

  1. The similarity with the old game struck me too. I’m sure the browser is fantastic but I’ll stick with Firefox. I don’t really like the web based “operating system” idea but I still can’t wait to try it out.

  2. I liked the speed of Chromo, but because it’s still way beta, and had no addons, i will not be using it anytime soon…. it’s not that much more faster than firefox to warrant changing and missing out on all of my addions

  3. Chrome seems like a really good browser, but I don’t plan on trying it out because Firefox works well enough for me. I didn’t realize how close the logo looked to Simon until you mentioned it. I used to get so frustrated with that game, I think it broke because I threw it against the wall.

  4. Oh, this is interesting. I found my old Simon game. Looks like I didn’t break it as I thought. Maybe in light of this I will try Google Chrome.

  5. To be honest, when I first saw this Google Chrome, I was attracted by its Poke-ball colorful appearance!

    I have downloaded, installed and using it for over 2 weeks, so far I was quite satisfied about the features…

  6. WebKit is a derivation of KHTML from the KDE project, so it was not originally created by Apple.

  7. Great browser, bleh logo. It’s no Firefox logo for sure. Thanks for the linkback.

  8. One of the things i dislike about firefox is that i find it rather slow on my computer, so i found the speed of chrome refreshing. However i still prefer ie7, and will continue using it.

  9. I actually tested this piece of software, and I was actually surprised of the end result. The ease of use and flexibility made all the difference. I congratulate Google for it’s tremendous work.

  10. I cant believe people on here are preferring IE over anything to be honest. IE is the worst browser on this earth and I really wish that Google Chrome can flush it out of existence.

    I use Google chrome everyday and it is ok, it is quick and repsonsive but it is still a little buggy. This is probably because it is still in BETA version. But overall, I really like I think they have done a good job and it will bring some stiff competition to exisitng browsers. Firefox is still my favourite browser because it is most suited for web development. Im interested to see what the next version of the chrome browser will be like, so far so good! :-)

  11. Google chrome is amazing. It is a little unstable so far but I guess that is just because it is the BETA version. The design is simple and the usability is really good! I just cant wait for them to pull out a new one! **THe google phone is going to be amazing!**

  12. I dont really like the new google chrome browser. It is isnt that great for a web developer. You can have any plugins like you can in firefox. I am just waiting for the new version to come out and see what that is like. Plus, you cant get it for mac!!!!

  13. The Google Chrome browser will be great give it a few more years, it is still in Beta stage and to be honest I think it look superb as a first release.

  14. I’m not a fan of google chrome…yet. It has some potential, but still has some major flaws, and isn’t at the same level as safari or even firefox. I’ll check back on it in several months to see if they have fixed some of the issues.

  15. Google Chrome is awesome and really light weight. I just like how it takes no time to start up.

  16. I think google chrome is really good for quick internet access. It may have a few bugs at the moment, but thats nothing the Chrome developers can’t fix. Once it has had time to develop, it will definately compete with Firefox.

  17. i like the feature that saves your whole browser from crashing, when one of the tabs has a critical error. so aggravating when everything closes due to one of the tab/windows :/
    -jason

  18. I never noticed that there logo was so similar to that game Simon. I remember that game from back in the day. Chrome is Ok.. nothing to special…

  19. It seems strange for google to enter this niche. Well, not really strange, because they’ve been entering whatever comes to their mind, but there are lots of other very fine web browsers, like firefox, the most popular one as far as I know. So why does google want to compete? My guess is that they created this just to go with their future operating systems or maybe they’ll transfer the google search from the web to our computers. Or maybe another innovative plan. I don’t know. Guess we’ll see.

  20. Google want to track users on the internet, they can already do this throught their toolbar, analytics and now through Chrome they will be able to deliver the most relevent content to users.

    The fact that it is standard complient browser is great! we need more of them in
    Web design – get rid of Internet Explorer

  21. THANK YOU for reminding me about the MY SIMON game – I knew that the Chrome browser reminded me of something – but I couldn’t think of what it was!

  22. Yes I still feel the browser is very buggy at this stage in time, hopefully in a few months all the nips will be ironed out

  23. I use Chrome and many other browsers for web site testing. I feel it has potential, but other browsers like Firefox and Safari are way ahead and they will need a really impressive marketing strategy to catch up. I suppose they have the bonus of putting a link on the most popular page on the internet!

  24. I wish it had a better favorites menu. Since I’m a StumbleUpon user, I would like to be able to put that with chrome.

  25. Chrome seems like a really good browser. At the first time its look cool browser but stil i prefer Firefox .

  26. I love that Chrome is light and fast but I wont be giving up my Google toolbar and Firefox addons just yet.

  27. Thank you soooo much for now making me never take Google Chrome serious because it looks now to me also as the Simon game. lol.

  28. I have been using Chrome since it came out and it has become my secondary browser (to Firefox).

    I like how google Chrome loads fast but there are some things that drive me really crazy about it. For example, flash doesn’t work on Chrome for me. Any page with flash will slow and freeze my Chrome usually to a point where I have to kill the application and start a new Chrome instance.

    The most innovative thing about Chrome for me is their “Applications Shortcut” that you can use to make quick shortcuts to google docs etc… straight from your desktop.

    Unfortunately I think Chrome’s biggest market share for the next few years will be about 1%. It took Firefox a l o n g time to move past 3% and the Firefox extensions and community is what make it so great. The people who use IE tend to use it because they feel safe in the MS world. Chrome’s market share battle is with all the other browsers apart from IE so already it’s quite reduced. Converting FF users with all their superb extensions and addons will be a very difficult tast.

    The fact that Google Toolbar doesn’t come with Chrome is already a big turn off for us Firefox converts.

  29. I am hoping that the majority of PC manufacturers will back this new product and pre-install Chrome on all new shipments as the DEFAULT browser, with Microsofts available as an option. I look forward to the day that Google releases an operating system to compete with Vista, I’ll install it the same day it comes out.

  30. I’m a web developer. It is important for me that my pages work with the most popular browsers. I tested all of my sites and there are works perfect with Chrome. Chrome have just a little problem, when I use FireFox and Chrome at the same time, my laptop die. I don’t know why.

  31. It is a great and fast browser but at the moment it is still full of bugs and does not display thing properly

  32. Doesn’t google scare you? It does me. They just are one level (or two levels) smarter than anybody else and of course they do this by keeping it simple. Their data base has become the largest in the world and they know everything about you – really. They also tend to buy the best small technologies. and now they are oing to run my browser. That said I can’t wait to try it.:) Great Blog
    Cheers,

  33. Google Chrome is very light weight and fast, but because it’s still way beta, and had no addons…

  34. Man it s really annoying to see almost every week that Google invented sometihng newand expand to other areas of technology.
    Why they can just be what they are best at and leave other to run their own thing without having such a great and mighty competitor as google is.
    They have money and information its pretty sure that eventually they will dominate in any niche they put their focus in.
    I am staying with firefox, not interasting in chrome :)

  35. The rendering speed of (especially heavy Javascript pages) is absolutely perfect. It seems to beat Opera, Firefox (and ofcourse) Internet Explorer badly on this account.

    However, for me one of the most annoying things was the popping up status bar on the bottom of the screen. Will this be fixed by Google or is everybody else enjoying it?

  36. Wow. I had no idea Google would make a browser. Its funny how strong google is. When Gmail came out, I wanted nothing to do with it, but after testing for about a month, I don’t ever want to go back to hotmail.

    I think if Firefox wasn’t an option I probably would of switched. Anything other the ugly blue E is exactly what the world needs more of.

    Be linking this blog from my own. Great post.

  37. It seems to be the fastest browser. But it also eats too much ram while Opera do this job on computer resource better

  38. Bleh Google Chrome. Yes it’s fast but it’s full of bugs, I know it’s a Beta but at least they could have made sure it’s useable before “launching’ it.

  39. Ive been using Google Chrome for a while now and it has not got any better really! Although it is really fast :-)

  40. i feel i am quite satisfied with firefox and i am lazy to change

  41. One of these days I’ll check it out. I hear some good some bad like anything new. Firefox is still my preference, but it’s nice to check other browsers for compatibility and display when designing a website.

  42. Nice review. I had written one as well when the product was launched. What I like the most about Chrome is the speed of launching the process. It appears on your screen in a jiffy as soon as you click the icon. And the screen height usage is amazing.

    Though, I would not give up on Firefox that easily, I am using Chrome fpr a different purpose as well – basically as a reminder to visit the 8-10 blogs that frequent :lol: with the click of that start screen thumbs.

    Cheers,
    Ajith
    PS: Liked your comparison with the Simon :)

  43. Google always rocks. It always has something to give better. I downloaded chrome since the day it was launched. It works good
    Hope Google will work on the add-ons and soon Chrome will be on number one as Google in all Search Engines

  44. I found google chrome okay I’ve been having no issues with firefox so I think I’ll stick with it. I’m more the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it type of guy.

    The one feature which I found to be pretty cool was the “incognito” mode where a window is opened and anything that is browsed is not saved in the history. I know it’s not a big deal but just for the fact that they even thought of it is impressive.

    It just show how Google is always in tune with what people need (no matter how small) and try to make it more user-convenient.

  45. I have been using Chrome ever since it came out and I am pretty happy with it so far. It is a whole lot fast than Firefox, and I haven’t really had that many issues of it crashing on me.

    However, I do have to switch back to Firefox every now and then when I need to use one of the many plugins that I have. I know that the reason why FF is so slow is because of all the plugins that I have, but I need/want them and they’re really useful.

    Hopefully if Chrome ever allows for plugins, it won’t slow it down the way FF does.

  46. Chrome, as one would expect, works very well when dealing with Google products. I find it great just to keep my apps seperate from browsing, running Gmail, Docs, Adwords in Chrome but I am still keeping on to firefox because of its many ever so useful extensions

  47. I tried Chrome a little ways back and was not enthusiastic about it.. After reading this in particular your prioritized security segment I think I will re-think my thought processes and give Chrome another chance and keep my IE for Netflix only provided Chrome does not let me play IW movies.

    Thanks for this article. It is appreciated.

  48. google chrome has completely changed how I look at online business. Everything was above and beyond what I expected. It’s all good. Really good.

  49. I have been using Chrome ever since it came out and I am pretty happy with it so far. It is a whole lot fast than Firefox.

  50. Yes other than a few things such as a hover problem over some drop down menu’s it does seem to be the best out there!

  51. I am still on the fence I think that something are better with FF and some things are better with Chrome to be honest.

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