Google Chrome will see greater expansion on mobile devices

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome and Apps at Google, talks up the dual strategies of Android and Chrome, but don't expect the two platforms to merge anytime soon.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- The mobile web is in its infancy, according to Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome and Apps at Google, adding that this market will flourish over the next three to five years.

Pichai sat down for a chat during the closing keynote discussion of the 2012 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Thursday afternoon.

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For critics who would ask what is there left to innovate with a browser, Pichai retorted that even though browsers have been around for 15 years, if you make the experience better, people will respond.

There are roughly 200 million Chrome users worldwide, and while Chrome is primarily a desktop experience as part of Google's dual strategy (Chrome and Android), it's starting to make its way on to mobile devices.

Last week, Google released a beta version of Chrome for Android for mobile devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Pichai noted that the "future of Chrome" is pushing the platform across smartphones and tablets. Part of the motivation for pushing Chrome to tablets, in particular, is how much more people use the browser on these devices.

"Users expect a seamless, integrated experience across devices," Pichai asserted, explaining the necessity (and opportunity) to ensure Chrome's presence and continuity across Google's products, from the desktop to mobile devices to Google TV.

The underpinnings to Chrome relies on two things: cloud-based apps and the browser that makes these things work.

Although the Chrome App Store is "in its early days," according to Pichai, he boasted about its success thus far given that install rates have tripled over the last three months, and there are approximately one million downloads in this space each day.

Pichai didn't offer many specifics about where the Chrome App Store will go from here, but he did note that we'll be seeing many more gaming and productivity apps released in the near future.

As far as productivity goes, Pichai pointed towards both Chrome and Google Apps, cloud computing products that are becoming much more popular with businesses trying to wrangle with the bring-your-own-device to work trend.

Businesses want something "that will scale across all this: a cloud-based solution that supports multiple endpoints," Pichai argued. "That changes the value of Apps significantly."

But as for any kind of pressure about merging the Android and Chrome platforms into a single unit, Pichai remained mum.

"We don't know. We will always do the right thing by users," Pichai said. "People use them differently, and we want to address them differently for today."


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