In an odd leak, Google sent Google Blogoscoped a comic book outlining the technology in its Chrome browser. The leak was confirmed by Kara Swisher and the Wall Street Journal (see the full comic book via Swisher). Philipp Lenssen outlines the following technical details (Techmeme):
- Google's browser will be open source;
- Tabs will be moved around;
- The browser has an address bar with auto-completion.
- There's a privacy feature like IE has;
- And Google aims to be proactive about fighting phishing and malware attacks.
Update: Google confirmed that Chrome will launch on Tuesday in a beta that will cover 100 countries. Google said on its blog:
All of us at Google spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends -- all using a browser. Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.
On the surface, we designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple. To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go.
So what does all of this mean and why is Google aiming to target a crowded browser market?
For starters, Google obviously thinks that it can grab share quickly and browser customers are valuable. Just look at the folks still using Netscape--some customers are lifers. If you buy the argument that the browser will ultimately serve as an operating system--or at least be the vehicle to tap into the OS--Google will have to be a player. Double bonus for Google if it connects Chrome, Desktop and Android.
Also see: IE 8 Beta 2 ready for downloadGoogle has reupped with Mozilla to occupy Firefox's search box through 2011. And Google practically bankrolls Mozilla and that won't change--for now. Now Google could be construed as going hostile. The reality may be different, however. Google may want to launch Chrome to see how much share it can grab in the browser market. Perhaps Google views Chrome and Firefox as a nice IE tag team combination.
What this means is that when Google does release this new browser then it has the potential to have quite a sudden and dramatic effect on the other players. But who’s likely to be the main casualty of Google Chrome? Right now it’s probably too early to put bets down, but my guess would be that Google’s primary target will be Internet Explorer. After all, that’s the browser with the largest market share and it’s also the browser that’s likely to look the worst when compared to Chrome (IE is slow, cumbersome, shaky, poor at following standards and perceived by many to be a security vulnerability). When it comes to ranking the browsers, apart from “it comes pre-installed on your system,” IE has little else going for it.
Firefox currently has 19 percent market share according to Janco Partners and IE's market share has fallen to 58.5 percent. Meanwhile, Google Desktop has a 4 percent share.
Google's browser playbook could look something like this:
- Google and Mozilla can grab collectively grab share from IE;
- If Google is unsuccessful it will at least have a business unit to acquire Mozilla Corp.;
- The Mozilla and Chrome code bases could ultimately merge;
- The more browsers targeting IE is a win for Google.
In other words, Google is launching a browser, but the plan is open ended. The only thing that is certain is that Google wants IE's market share to fall further. If Google's browser grabs 10 percent market share in a year it's likely to take it from IE, which is finishing up its latest effort (right). And if Google's Chrome isn't a hit it could be a vehicle to acquire Mozilla. The Journal called Google's browser play risky, but that's debatable. Why not toss a browser out there and see what happens?
Update 2: After giving this Google browser move some thought I reckon that Opera is in for a world of hurt. The browsers on my desktop are getting crowded and after IE, Firefox and Google there won't be room for Opera, which is already a stretch as the third browser download for me. Another casualty: Safari for Windows. Safari will likely be fine for the Mac, but Google's Chrome will be a threat there too.