New Google Browser for Business?
Is Google’s new browser a business tool?
Yesterday saw the launch of Chrome, the new open source browser from search giants Google. Chrome launches into an arena dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and, to a lesser degree, Mozilla’s Firefox.
Until now browsers have been built to mainly handle text and images but as the web has evolved and more & more business users demand video, email, chat & collaboration, the web browser has had to evolve too. Chrome is a "ground-up" designed browser, streamlined and simple as Google are renowned for, and it has been built with these new web applications in mind.
Launched as a beta app for Windows users only for the meantime, Chrome will most certainly be explored by innovative and technical businesses intrigued by the offerings of the new browser. But with many networks in small business "locked down" to prevent users installing their own choice of application, Google’s Chrome may find a very limited audience amongst business users.
Browser stats show that whilst IE commands over 50% usage and Firefox more than 40%, Mozilla, Safari & Opera take up the final small slice of the browser market share. These figures are for all web traffic and separating business use of browsers is a slightly harder task. Anecdotally IE has an 80% share of the business browser market whilst Firefox has around 10% so it will be interesting to see how Chrome fares against these more established browsers.
One point to bear in mind is that as a business tool Chrome is so new that it is, as yet, unproven and untested in the business environment hence the beta status. We do not yet know the level of security in Chrome and how susceptible it may be to exploits. It is a technically strong browser with each tab running as a separate process meaning that if one tab fails it won’t pull down the whole browser. That certainly assists the workflow in any business, not having to recover crashed work.
The other unusual aspect of the new Google Chrome is the official book. Written in a comic style it is an unconventional introduction to the beta browser highlighting Google’s philosophy behind the new application. Whilst a refreshing approach from past offerings it remains to be seen whether this will appeal to business.
In time, as a piece of open source software, developers will no doubt create extensions and plug-ins for Google Chrome that will enable business to work more efficiently. One rumbling in the blogosphere is that Chrome has the distinct whiff of being more than just a browser and actually being an attempt at an OS, with the very real possibility of being able to run applications in the future so that PCs can be free of proprietary operating systems; think of a new machine that doesn’t have Windows – that concept must surely be giving Microsoft something to think about and could well give business a lot more freedom in the future.