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Analysis: Google Chrome versus Firefox & Internet Explorer

Should Microsoft and Mozilla be afraid?


Google finally released its long-awaited web browser, Chrome this week. We look at the effect its going to have on the other big players in the browser market.

Yahoo, Ask, etc

On the web, imitation is the sincerest form of competition. And if Google successfully uses Chrome to make its bonds with millions of web users even stronger, Google rivals such as Yahoo might suddenly develop the urge to release browsers of their own. It's hard to imagine, though, that many companies would be able to throw as many resources at browser development as Google can. Other companies might simply re-skin Firefox and add a few new features via extensions. That wouldn't be wildly ambitious, but it might be enough to compete.

Apple

Steve Jobs's company is, among many other things, a browser developer. In fact, Chrome has some Cupertino in its DNA, since it uses the Webkit rendering engine, which is the open-source version of the one Apple developed for its Safari browser. Apple released a Windows version of Safari in June 2007, but it seems to be a quirky side project rather than a key part of the company's overarching internet strategy.

On the other hand, Google says a version of Chrome for OS X is on the way. How would Apple feel about that, especially if Chrome were to steal a meaningful number of users from Safari? It'll never tell us. But even on OS X, Safari seems to exist primarily to ensure that Macs have a solid default browser. And given the close ties between the two companies - Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits on the Apple board - Google probably wouldn't choose to wage all-out war on Safari. Bottom line: Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers might well co-exist peaceably on the Mac.

In the Windows world, though, peace isn't a word that comes to mind when considering Chrome. If the new browser ends up mattering at all, it will be explosive, and absolutely nobody, Google included, can predict exactly how things will shake out.

  1. Should other browsers fear Google's entry into the market
  2. Should Mozilla be concerned by Chrome's arrival
  3. Chrome's effect on Apple and Yahoo

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