Monday, September 01, 2008
Now that news has leaked that Google is set to release a browser, time to ask the business question: what market share will Google Chrome top out at over the next 2-3 years?
Firefox has been surprisingly robust, but it took a long time to get to the 10-15% share area. That said, that growth would have been inexorable in my opinion. It's at 40% - equal to or ahead of IE - for some websites I see analytics data for. The cool (and not-Microsoft) factor was bound to keep spreading.
That said, Safari still doesn't have huge share, but arguably it might keep adding.
So will a new browser actually get adopted? My gut reaction was to say no. It's a tough fight to get people to switch. But then I saw some of the promises being made - such as shielding tabs from one another to prevent rogue applications from crashing the browser, and a variety of performance improvements that we can only assume Google can deliver on, and it seems like the product will just flat out sell itself.
That said: I am no fan of change when it comes to browsers, and for most of the population that aversion to changing platforms is times ten. I am also no fan of big monopolies - but of course that is why so many of us felt relief that Firefox had momentum, so we wouldn't have to use Microsoft's product.
Either Chrome will wind up like GMail -- eventually rising to 15% market share even though everyone *you* know seems to use it -- or it will surprise everyone and go up to about double that, as people defect from both IE and Firefox in favor of a much improved experience (fighting inertia and anti-Google paranoia in the process).
Here's the call, then: by this time in 2010 I am guessing Chrome's browser market share in the US will be above 15% but no higher than 32%. This assumes that Microsoft, Google, and Apple are all about equally savvy about the various carrots, tie-ins, and inducements they can use to increase browser market share, which I think is the case.
Will I use it? Probably yes, for the same reasons I switched to GMail after initial skepticism. If it makes the experience that much better, faster, and less error-prone, then that is the bottom line for me.
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