Google yesterday introduced its free web browser, Chrome, which launches a Windows version in beta today, via its company blog. (The news leaked when Google prematurely -- and accidentally -- sent a comic book it had commissioned to introduce the browser.)
Already, the browser is creating a frenzy among tech bloggers.
What the blogers say
Nick Carr, author of "The Big Switch," sees Chrome as an integral component of a "cloud-computing" future. "To Google, the browser has become a weak link in the cloud system -- the needle's eye through which the outputs of the company's massive data centers usually have to pass to reach the user -- and as a result the browser has to be rethought, revamped, retooled, modernized," he writes. Om Malik, meanwhile, believes it's an important move to create a seamless desktop-to-mobile browser, something the existing players have yet to create. And John Furrier contends the search war is turning into an operating-system war, with the browser as an important move to maintain Google's "hooks" onto the desktop.
But it's also likely Google was worried about the latest iteration of Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer, which is the clear leader in the browser space with 72.2% penetration, according to Net Applications. (Mozilla's Firefox is second with 19.7%.)
As Ad Age wrote last week, this latest Internet Explorer has the ad world in a tizzy over an option to surf "in private." Surfing in this mode is not the default setting but should many consumers choose it so, it could block advertisers from collecting the browsing data they use to help target ads and glean data about what ads were shown when.
Enhancing Google's business model
Google's entire business model is based on advertising and data, and branching out into more display-advertising business is integral to its growth. But data is essential to compete in display, and that data is gleaned through third-party ad tracking: Google's $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, which serves up online display ads, lays the ground for a robust display-ad-targeting business.
Google, for its part, talks up the browser's simplicity and streamlined user interface and its ability to run robust web apps.
"We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser," wrote Google's Sundar Pichai, VP-product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director. "What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build."