Thinking Long Term: Google’s New Browser ‘Chrome’

With nearly every tech blogger pontificating on the cartoon, firefox vs IE vs chrome, or expressing love for the ‘cloud’, only a few folks are thinking about the long term implications to Google’s new browser called ‘Chrome’.

Harry McCracken does some forward thinking and raises 10 questions
that need to be answered, mainly around conversion and partnerships. I’ve got to add a few more ideas that I’m not seeing asked by others, Google’s new browser could mean:

More accurate web analytics. Although not mentioned in the announcement nor cartoon, the opportunity for Google to develop better web tracking from actual users spanning multiple websites is at hand. Now that Google has it’s popular web analytics trackers are in many websites, they could potentially increase data gathering by using a browser –of course opt-in would be necessary, perhaps like the attention trust.

Any website can now be social
Google’s browser could eventually make any website social –even if the website owner chooses not to participate. How? A plugin could be created that allows your gmail, gtalk, and other network to join you wherever you surf on the web, essentially your social graph could go with you as you travel the web. Coupled with Google Readers’ aggregation ability, this is a way to beat Facebook using a more ‘open model’.

A default browser on the Android mobile platform. If you’re not familiar, Google has announced it’s intention for it’s Android, a mobile platform suitable for software developers who want to incorporate their websites using Chrome. Expect to see a lightweight mobile version be available. Eventually coupled with geo-specific location gathering, (of course, opt-in) this could now empower Google with information about location based marketing.

Other methods to monetize. Other than the obvious ability to create more categorization of the web and offer ads, let’s think creatively on how Google could use this to enhance their bottom line. With more accurate data (combine analytics and location aware scraping) Google can now return more intelligent search results to users –in fact, each person could receive a customized search results page, advertisers would follow suit to quickly achieve higher rankings.

Peer into closed networks. This browser is a direct threat to closed social networks that do not allow Google to search or scrape like on the openweb. Social Networks that require a login to see data like Facebook potentially can be flanked if Google is the browser is the browser rendering the pages. Of course, this brings all kinds of privacy issues into play, but attention trackers with opt-in agreements could help Google to map these out.

No, this is not an IE killer, history has shown there’s plenty of room for multiple browsers, different users have different needs.

There are so many echos on Techmeme, so let’s try to have some original thoughts, I’d love to hear your long term insights on how this browser will impact the web space, leave a comment.

  • http://www.afpr.com Andrew Finkle

    I think the game chagers here might be

    1) Connectivity to Android. Apple archetected its mobile browser strategy so that it is based on their desktop browser, Safari. Going forward a ubiquitous browsing experience (regardless of what device you are using to access) will be critical. Nothing more frustrating then not being able to continue one’s experience from device to device.

    2) Your comment about taking one’s social network with them in the browser is spot on, I blogged about this a while back http://bit.ly/2RNExM

    3) Chrome will also be one more nail in the coffin (a LONG term trend) of personal computing moving to the clouds. Though I have not personally been able to use Chrome yet, I would be shocked if the most significant improvements in speed and interoperability was not tied to cloud based initiatives.

  • http://www.afpr.com Andrew Finkle

    (re my previous post… meant to infer another nail in the coffin for desktop based applications)

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Thanks Andrew, great insights. Good points about making the web experience seamless regardless of device. Google could deliver this.

  • http://www.beingpeterkim.com Peter Kim

    Let’s WIM, despite that fact that we don’t work together anymore…where your post leads me is to competitive implications:

    - Web Analytics: Omniture, Coremetrics
    - Social Web/Integration: Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, iChat
    - Mobile decks: Vcast, t-zones, sprint vision
    - Closed networks: brilliant. An end-around of Facebook Connect?

    WIM: Netscape Navigator folded. Does Microsoft embrace Firefox and try to build a competing open system that helps tie into its quickly building ad serving business (from aQuantive)?

    Apple will continue to have design points…but as the rest of the world opens up, will user experience start to even out? Because content will always be the key.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Peter

    ANALYTICS
    Not just omniture and coremetrics but also Hitwise, Pew, and other large industry level analytics firms

    INTEGRATION
    Google’s model is play with us in the open web and you’ll prosper. They’ll have APIs available, but many of those you listed likely won’t play.

    MOBILE
    It depends. If android gets picked up by Mobile Vendor OEMs then they’ve a strong opportunity. Again, open data will be key –so the OEMs can push and pull data. Don’t forget the mobile sonet technology like Loopt.

    CLOSED NETWORKS
    Yup, you get it.

    Google has invested in Firefox, a potential lock out to Microsoft. Again, they’ll have to play in the open web, or radically redesign IE. Given their time to market for IE to compete with FF (I realize their latest iteration came faster) they’re going to need to step on the gas.

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  • http://www.connectme360.com Brian Hayashi

    While Google Chrome by itself isn’t an IE-killer; to me it’s interesting that Google recently stopped supporting Firefox extensions like SMS and Browser Sync. I think open source has its limits: it was too hard for Google to get any traction in that environment.

    I believe that Google’s fresh take on virtual machines (faster, fewer crashes) is critical to browser innovation. VM is critical to any kind of mobile/desktop sync activity.

    Yet none of the existing browsers were taking leadership — both IE and Mozilla have been guilty of simply iterating the browser to death instead of a dramatic reinvention based on what people are and will be doing with their browser. As a result, relying on third party browser platforms has been a governor on Google’s ambitions. Google could see that long before IE8 threatened its search and advertising businesses.

    Now they have their own platform, Google can lead by example. For instance, Google’s approach to phishing and malware sites may provide an alternative template to eventstreaming. I believe that this launch is a sign Google will dramatically step up its developer evangelism efforts:
    http://connectme.typepad.com/news/2008/09/the-next-phase.html

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  • Tamara

    People worry about their private information online and they’ll never go for this Big Brother approach from the company that gave the vicious Chinese Communist government a bear-hug.

  • http://ryanagraves.com Ryan Graves

    The two huge things that stand out to me about Chrome are simplicity and speed. The comic really does a great job of explaining to the non CS major why its fast. Here my take if interested: http://ryanagraves.com/09/02/2008/google-chrome/

    Great post.

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  • http://www.brahmastagi.com brahmastagi

    Hi, I think Google should use the Chrome as a smart agent. so not only browsing capability, Google should add feature that help user to organize and filtering information, further more finding information that match to behavior and actual need of the user.

    Chrome can be the gate to the next level of web experience. web 3.0?

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  • http://n-hero.blogspot.com Anh Hung

    To be honest, I haven’t found anything particularly interesting in Chrome except for the Internal Task Manager, which hints it’s gonna be an on online platform that replaces the traditional OS. This again is not new and Mozilla is doing the same thing.

    Another selling point of Chrome is it renders Javascript faster, but I’m more eager to wait for Firefox 3.1 to come out with its TraceMonkey.

    Perhaps I’m too much of a Firefox Fan but so far haven’t thought about Chrome future impressive success yet.

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  • http://www.gtsurveillance.com Greg H.

    It is hard to believe that it has only been about fifteen years since Mosaic changed the face of that newfangled interweb. Within a year of its release, URLs were starting to pop up on major network, prime time television commmercials (albeit in very fine print).

    Just over two years after Mosaic took X-Win by storm, Microsoft jumped into the game with IE 1.0. Within months, they had taken significant market share from Netscape, despite the fact that IE was all but useless until version 3.0.

    The moral? First, Chrome has the potential to completely change the game just like Mosaic did. However, its biggest contribution to the web may have nothing whatsoever to do with Google. Rather, Chrome may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and forces Microsoft to jump into open source software in a big way.

    All this talk of the good old days makes me want to play some D&D with those guys from MIT and Johns Hopkins…..:-P

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  • http://sachendra.com Sachendra Yadav

    This is no longer about browser but about the an entire marketplace spread between desktop, mobile and web. With Chrome, Google’s taking a shot at Windows.

    When combined with Google Gears technology, this is as close as you can get to replicating the desktop experience with web applications. Google’s developing an ecosystem with Chrome, Android and Open Social. I would expect some more strategic roll outs to complete the gameplan.

    I’ve covered this in more detail on my blog
    http://sachendra.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/googles-chrome-is-aimed-at-windows-not-ie/

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  • http://alphonseha.blogspot.com Alphonse Ha

    I had to leave a comment about your idea that Chrome could mean that every web sites can be social. That would be shake a lot of things and possibly change the way we use the Internet.

    To think that when I am reading an article, rather than simply leaving a comment on a blog, I could just join the discussion, litteraly, directly on the web page is mind boggling.

    In a way, it would be like mIRC all over again where you can surf/travel from channel to channel (or in the case page to page) and socialize with people of the same interest.

    Where has Google mentionned this idea?

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Alphonse

    Google hasn’t mentioned this idea –but I saw my friends who work there smirk when I mentioned these ideas.

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