GOOGLE’S DESKTOP WEB BROWSER, CHROME BAGS 1% SHARE OF GLOBAL MKT IN 4 DAYS

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CHROME, Google’s desktop web browser, has created a record of sort by taking over 1% share of the global market within four days of its launch. But analysts say it will take a long while to unseat Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) that controls over 72% of the market.

Analysts say the user group mainly belongs to the tech fraternity and users who actively use only Google web search, Gmail, Google reader and blogs.

Chrome is in direct competition with IE and Firefox, which enjoys 19.73% of the market share. The other browsers like Opera, Safari and Netscape are still fighting for a substantial market share.

“Since the desktop is largely in the Microsoft domain, it is conceivable that IE will continue to enjoy its default browser status for the desktop in the near foreseeable future,” said KPMG executive director Akhilesh Tuteja.

Chrome with its simple looks and equipped with the most basic of browser functionalities is precisely what a no-frills user would want. But it lacks several features like bookmark managers which allow users to save files and webpages and view them anytime. Also the RSS reader, which feeds users with news from the web, is missing. Users have grown accustomed to these features and will want it on the Chrome. However, the clean and clear-cut browser makes the screen look uncluttered and larger in content area when compared to other browsers. Also, the tab feature on Chrome stands apart from the other browsers. It runs each tab in isolation from the other thus preventing the other tab from crashing it. “All of Google's products are based on American ethos. It is simple to use despite its complex architecture," said Kaustubh Dhavse deputy director (ICT practice) Frost & Sullivan. However, this first version by Google runs only on Windows desktop, but new versions for Mac and Linux are expected to be released soon. "Google is striving to ensure that Chrome will work properly with the most popular sites on the web. Massive testing is expected, and it should work as well as a Firefox Beta. Initial tests of the Chrome are being done at a fast pace by thousands." said Mr. Tuteja.

According to Mr Dhavse, MS will have to constantly make changes and upgrade their browser features to appeal to the users, if they want to continue being the market leader. “The old format does not excite users anymore.” he said.

Google comes from a web environment whereas MS comes from a OS environment which moved into the web space. The edge that IE has over the other browsers is that MS bundles the browser with its operating system (OS), so every user's default browser is IE and this plays in their favour.

Analysts are sceptical about the adoption of Chrome by enterprises as the browser is on a beta platform like all other Google products. “Everytime Google launches a product be it gmail or Orkut and now Chrome, it is on a beta platform. This is safe play by Google and is one of the major criteria for enterprises and governments not using their products. It is not a fully tried and tested enterprise solution, whereas MS is the leader in this,” said another analyst who did not want to be named. “Google is focused on providing a great user experience, and we're releasing Google Chrome in beta so we can gather user feedback and quickly iterate to improve the product.” said a Google spokesperson. Industry watchers say it will be interesting to watch out how the Google-Microsoft saga unfolds. Google in the past has accused MS of monopolising the OS and browser market by bundling their products and driving the consumer segment. “Google is faced with a great paradox today. It is trying to create its own ecosystem just like MS. The winner will be one who can drive the market and sustain it,” said Mr Dhavse. However, Google might never accept this and claim it is challenging the presence of the other giants in the market. “Browsers are one of the most fundamental platforms for a user and Google wants to be there, they are playing their cards very well,” said another analyst on condition of anonymity.

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