The first week of September, Google celebrated the fifth birthday of its web browser Google Chrome, which was quietly launched in 2008. At that time, the company was unsure how successful it would be, especially since the market for web browsers was in a slowdown period. The available browsers had a variety of flaws such as complex, not stable, or difficult to use.
In thinking about expanding, the company needed a platform for its various apps and programs to run on, without being reliant on other browsers. No one – including some Google executives like CEO Steve Ballmer – could have estimated the power and marketing assistance that this web browser would bring to Google.
Chrome was founded on an open source platform, meaning anyone could modify it. And though Google could market its toolbar to individuals and pay other companies like Mozilla to make Google the default search engine in their browsers, it didn’t have a platform of its own. Every program was hosted on another platform, which limited Google’s growth ceiling. Chrome, of course, changed that. Google now has its own platform from which to run all its apps, mail service, and search engine.
The web browser initially built its reputation on speed and simplicity, but that wasn’t enough to keep people coming back. It also had to be reliable, not crash, and be extended and personalized with add-ons. People also wanted security, constant protection from phishing and spam attacks. Google also updated its browser every six weeks, rather than the once-a-year update that was common with other browsers. Chrome software developers came through in spades on those promises. These four areas of improvement (speed, simplicity, stability, and security) gave Google competitors a tough standard to live up to.
In 2009, just a year after launching the browser, Google transformed Chrome into an operating system. Suddenly, the web was the only operating system the computer needed. This innovative idea was especially helpful for the development of smartphones and tablets, not simply computers. The web-centric approach gives buyers and competitors alike an idea of where Google is headed.
Chrome is also the browser best formatted for a range of operating systems. At this point, it is the only major browser available on all Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android platforms. The browser also pushed out significant updates to the various platforms beginning in May. Windows and Android users got the updates first, followed by iOS users. One of these changes, which was a long time coming, was the voice-activated search function.
At the time Chrome was launched, Internet Explorer commanded a whopping 72 percent of the web browsing market. Firefox held nearly 20 percent, Safari about 7 percent, while Opera and other browsers made up the remainder. Today, IE holds about 56 percent of the market, with Firefox and Chrome in equal standing with 20 percent. Chrome’s numbers may continue to rise as Google continues to innovate and change market standards. By the time Chrome turns ten, we could have some truly amazing technology on our hands.
This guest article was written by Eva Kettler, who often writes for Computer Renaissance, a computer store in Fort Collins. This business specializes in computer maintenance, repairs, and refurbishing. When she’s not writing, Eva enjoys renovating her 60-year-old house and making peach jam.