Google’s Chrome Aims for Share of Internet Browser Market

Google’s stock responded positively to the announcement by the company that it is launching its own web browser. The new browser, called Chrome, will compete against Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox and arch-rival Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The news of the launch follows hot on the heels of the release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 and is seen as a challenge to Microsoft’s long-held dominance of the market. Microsoft controls an estimated 70 percent of the browser market at present and Google’s new software opens up a whole new aspect of the ongoing Google versus Microsoft saga.

Along the lines of Firefox, Chrome will be open source, allowing users to use, change and improve the software. Google is already the most widely used internet search engine and the launch of their own web browser, initially in 100 countries, is likely to promote Google’s popularity. Chrome has a host of user friendly features. For example, the opening screen displays a series of the user’s most popular links, while its address bar uses past activity to predict destinations, thereby cutting down on search option times. Moreover, the browser isolates suspect and flawed web pages, allowing the user to close them without having to shut down the entire browser.

The response to Chrome has been largely positive, with many welcoming the competition and looking forward to the inevitable spin-off of rapidly advancing technology. Estimates indicate that Google may claim up to 20 percent of the market in the space of two years. It is anticipated that the biggest gains will come from countries like Korea and China, where Google’s search engine is not yet dominant offering significant possibilities for development.

A May report released by Merril Lynch & Co estimated that the market value of web-based software, along with revenue from advertising, could reach $160 billion by the year 2011. Google’s Chrome will have a number of obstacles to overcome in its battle against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in this lucrative market. A major obstacle is the fact that the world’s top five personal computer manufacturers pre-install Microsoft programs, which is likely the primary reason for Internet Explorer being the market leader. Second in the pecking order is Mozilla Corp’s Firefox which has captured 20 percent of the market, with Apple Inc’s Safari holding 6.4 percent.

Google is set as the default search engine for Firefox, Safari and Opera, and these three browsers combined represent around 27 percent of the market. Microsoft may currently be market leader, but indications are that competition in this fast moving market is set to become intense, which will no doubt have an effect on the share prices of the companies involved.