The Browser Wars Continue: Introducing Google Chrome
Today is going to mark the introduction of a brand-new browser -- not from Microsoft or Mozilla but in a surprise move, from Google. Blogoscoped has images of the new browser, named Google Chrome, here.
Google used a comic book approach to describe why they felt it was necessary to launch a new browser. This approach made it easier to digest otherwise complicated concepts. The PR-friendly answer to "why create a new browser" is that thanks to worldwide usage of Google's search engines and tools, Google could see how people's enjoyment of the internet was being stifled by old-fashioned browsers that were built primarily to read HTML web pages. Google chose to use open source principles to create a browser from the ground up based on what people do today: watching and uploading videos, chatting with each other, or playing games.
Yet as I read through Google's explanation, it appears that Google will launch an enormous initiative in order to court developer interest in Google Chrome for the desktop and Google Android for the mobile. Google will treat the web browser as an operating system on which other programs, widgets and applets can run.
Similar to the functionality of Gmail and Google Docs, Apple promises to help people keep all of their information in synch via Mobile Me. Based on what I saw of Mobile Me, I predicted that Apple will use the iPhone/iTunes ecosystem to create a new browser-based netbook operating system platform which will run on new netbook computers as reported by NPR and others.
I've argued that Apple will drop the prices of its hardware in order to build up its developer base for its Safari platform. Google Android/Chrome will be directly competitive with Apple's iPhone platform by offering web developers an integrated environment where one can build apps for traditional computers and mobile phones at the same time. Google's Virtual Machine approach addresses memory leak issues that many users of the iPhone are only now starting to encounter after downloading multiple applications.
I believe it is only a matter of time before Google attempts to make Google Chrome the default operating system for a new generation of sub-$500 notebook computers that will never be touched by Microsoft Windows but instead will run Gmail, Google Docs and so much more.
Interestingly, Google Chrome imitated Apple in choosing WebKit, not Mozilla, as the foundation for its browser. It wouldn't surprise me to see Google bidding against Apple for stewardship of WebKit's community and associated intellectual property, much as former Red Hat CTO Marc Ewing was able to commercialize his company's open source community.