Will the Google Chrome Web browser come to Apple's iPads and iPhones?

Will the Google Chrome Web browser come to Apple's iPads and iPhones?

Summary: A firm of business analysts speculates that it would be great if Google's Chrome Web browser were to come to iOS devices. Will it? Will Apple let it?


Will Safari soon have to content with Chrome on iPads, iPhones, and iPods?

Will Safari soon have to content with Chrome on iPads and iPhones?

Macquarie (USA) Equities Research, a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services, is speculating that Google will be bringing its popular Chrome Web browser to Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod iOS. Will Google do this? And, perhaps the more important question, "Will Apple let them do this?"

Macquarie's analysts argue that Google will release a version of the Chrome Web browser for iOS. They see Chrome on iOS sometime in 2012 and as early as June 2012.

Why would Google do it? Well, the reason that immediately pops into my head is market-share. Macquarie spells it out in more detail.

1) It would help reduce the money that Google has to pay to Apple for Google searches on iOS' native browser Safari.

2) It would spread the browser wars, only this time on mobile devices instead of the continuing desktop browser battle.

3) Chrome on Android is already proving popular with users and critics alike and Macquarie expects that, like Chrome on the desktop, Google would back it with a lot of advertising.

Today, Google already has the top mobile Web browser: Android's native Web browser. Chrome has just arrived on Android, and, for now at least, it's still only available on Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Still, Chrome on iOS sounds good. I can certainly see Google wanting to bring Chrome to iOS. My question though is: "Will Apple let them do it?"

While Google has some great apps, like the new Google+ app on iOS, but that doesn't directly compete with Apple. As we all know from Apple's global anti-Android lawsuits, Apple has no love for Google's Android or its partners. Worse still, from Apple's viewpoint, with Google's purchase of Motorola growing ever closer, Google will have the smartphones, and possibly its own Android tablet as well, Google may soon be competing directly with Apple.

Would Apple want Google on its own home-ground? I don't think so.

True, there are already alternative Web browsers like Opera Mini, Mercury Web Browser Pro, and Skyfire, the first iOS Web browser to support Flash. None of those, however, are major browsers. Certainly none of them are from a company that Apple considers a serious rival. Thanks to Android, Google, make no mistake about it, is an Apple rival.

On the other hand, Microsoft is already getting into hot-water for preventing rival Web browsers from running at full capacity on Windows RT, Microsoft's forthcoming Windows on ARM operating system. Indeed, a Senate committee is looking into investigating Microsoft for restricting Chrome and Firefox on Windows RT. Some people are wondering though what's so special about Apple that they, with their 68% of the tablet market, can block major browsers from their devices, but the Senate can give Microsoft grief for restrictions on devices that aren't even shipping yet.

Good question. Indeed, for all the other reasons Macquarie gives for Google to bring Chrome to iOS, another excellent one might be to put more pressure on Apple to either have to open up their iDevice family or to face legal trouble down the road.

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Topics: Browser, Android, Apple, Apps, Google, iPhone, iPad, Mobility

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  • Apple will never allow it

    Google can install a browser shell around either server side rendering or Apple's client side rendering and javascript engines. Apple will never allow anything else.

    The only way Google will be able to install full Chrome on iOS is if an anti-trust agency deems Apple to be anti-competitive and forces Apple to allow it.
    • Apple allows any browsers if they use WebKit rendering engine

      Considering that Chrome uses this engine, too, there is no issue. But without ability to tweak rendering engine Google will not be able to show advantages in speed, so they are not interested.

      Others are interested, though. There are a lot of third-party browsers for iOS, though none of big names in native mode besides Safari.

      Anyway, whole concept of Apple's sandboxed "walled garden" is that they do not allow low level third-party software, such as web rendering engines. Hence no native Google Chrome.
      • Chrome is more than webkit

        It is also V8, their javascript engine. It is also their extensions.

        [i]There are a lot of third-party browsers for iOS[/i]

        No, there are a lot of third-party browser shells for iOS. There is a difference.

        [i] though none of big names in native more besides Safari.[/i]

        You mean "native mode"? If so, correct. Apple has access to special APIs that 3rd party app developers do not have access to.
    • I Suspect That's True

      I don't see Apple voluntarily allowing a competing full-fledged browser on iOS either. It doesn't mean much to me personally, since I have no plans to own an iOS device, but it does show one of the shortcomings of the "walled garden."

      It's not that the "walled garden" doesn't have its advantages, but regulating all the software that comes in means that, not only will you not see software that Apple finds to be dangerous (like Trojans), but you also won't see things Apple simply doesn't like (like competing software).
      • Plenty of competing apps/services in the App Store

        When I check the "Walled Garden" App Store I find an endless list of music software competing with iTunes. Like Spotify, and Rhapsody-Napster and many othes. Can also find major competing eBook stores that competes with Apple iBook store, like Kindle, Nook, and Amazon. Plenty of Office suites that competes with Apple's own Office Apps.
      • Two Points About That

        One point in reply to that is that any particular competing software may or may not be allowed into the App Store. You can't count on anything one way or the other. Apple can keep software out at their discretion. We can clearly see that no other browsers are allowed, so examples of allowed competition are immaterial to whether or not Apple is willing to bar competing software when it suits their purposes.

        A second point is that Apple is putting their finger in the pie of most of the software that you mention. Yes, you can sell music from your app that is available in the App Store, but Apple still gets their share of the profit from the music. Yes, you can sell books, but Apple still gets their share of the profit from the books. They'll accept your competing app in the App Store as long as you "bribe" them to accept it. It's not really a competing app when Apple wins the competition either way.

        The office suites are a little different, but not that much. Apple does get their percentage of profit from any sale of an office program on the App store. The only big reason for them to bar competing office suites would be to put forward their own proprietary format. That is not likely to happen with the current dominance of Microsoft formats and the only competition of any kind being open formats.

        As I said, with the "walled garden" they can bar competition any time it suits their purposes. My point is that there is nothing to stop them from doing this.
    • apple and M$ must allow chrome on ARM

      and distribute it freely to level the playing field and respond to people's demands.
      The Linux Geek
      • They are free to do whatever they want

        and people will respond with how they buy. So far, it doesn't mean much to Apple and Microsoft isn't likely to change the Windows RT security model.
      • Why?

        Why must they?
      • Stopped reading at "M$"

        Stopped reading at "M$". Grow up.
    • Actually, there are legit browsers with their own rendering engines

      "Google can install a browser shell around either server side rendering or Apple's client side rendering and javascript engines. Apple will never allow anything else."

      Actually, there are legit browsers with their own rendering engines out there. Opera Mini uses its own rendering engine.
      • Apple only allow Opera Mini because of it's server side compression

        Apple only allow Opera Mini because of it's server side compression. Why is there no Firefox Mobile or Opera Mobile on iOS? Firefox have even said because Apple doesn't allow third parties enough access to iOS itself.
    • Exactly!

      Exactly toddbottom3!
  • As much as I'd love to see Chrome on my iPhone

    I'd like to see it first on my HTC Thunderbolt running Android Gingerbread 2.3.4.
    • Chrome on earlier versions of Android

      You and me both!

    • Come on now

      How is it that at the time I posted this I have the top rated post (+4) and yet SJVN who agrees with me has a post rated in the negative? Come on people enough with the personal hate fests.
  • Sorry, Google, you first

    Allow one to install either the Opera or Mozilla Firefox web browser in Chrome OS on Chromebooks.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • I can't disagree with this point of view.

      Although, I am not 100% certain that Google are preventing that from happening. After all, ChromiumOS is the open source for ChromeOS and so, anyone can go to that for developmental purposes to advance a particular agenda.

      Do you disagree?
      DTS - Your Linux Advocate
      • How would Chromebook consumer install it?

        Let's say I buy a Samsung Chromebook. Mozilla modifies Chromium OS to allow the installation of Firefox. How would I, a hypothetical Samsung Chromebook consumer, install Firefox on my device?
        • Pure guesswork

          You are inviting me to speculate.
          It would have to be worked out how Chrome would pass control to an alternate Browser session and hide itself.

          OK! It's done! Hey that wasn't so hard after all! (slaps forehead)
          DTS - Your Linux Advocate