The new Browser War: Google goes Machiavelli on Microsoft
It's been a busy season for the major players on the web browser market, with Mozilla Corp. launching Firefox 3.5 on 30 June, and Microsoft releasing its 8th edition of IE in March. While the former included native integration of audio and video, more privacy features and an overall performance improvement, the latter added accelerators, improved privacy protection, and a compatibility mode for pages designed for earlier version of IE. Along came Google as well, managing to gather for its Chrome browser a 4% usage share by October this year, according to stats provided by gs.statcounter.com.
The same graphic, for the September 08 – October 09 timeline, shows that IE still finished with a dominant position on the market of 58% share, while Firefox built a steady 32%, leaving Opera, Safari and other browsers to share the remaining 6%.
As the numbers show, IE came a long way since the days of the first browser war, when the market was dominated by Netscape Navigator, but not all this success is due to IE's capabilities, but, as I see it, also due to a fierce marketing strategy and a strong brand name: Microsoft.
On the other hand, Google, which has a name that could sell easily, too, has preferred a low-keyed approach for Chrome, even with the risk of disappointing the analysts and scoring only 4% of the market. But nothing is lost, and I have the feeling that Google is preparing a marketing offensive.
While "continuing to explore ways to make Chrome accessible to even more people", the 1 year old web browser has already made a confirmed deal with Sony, which will confer Chrome the exclusivity for Vaio PCs. Rumors also have it that the giant Google is exploring similar deals with other OEMs. Some call this a "Microsoftian" approach, and some argue that Google is buying its way onto the market share.
On the European front, the Norwegian browser Opera attacked IE, filing a complaint against Microsoft for packing every Windows with IE, not giving a chance to other browsers on the market. Google couldn't stay away from such an opportunity, and, last February, has joined the EU offensive against Microsoft as an "interested third party" (of course). The outcome of this European war is yet to come!
Taking into account that Chrome will benefit from a serious boost next year, due to the Chrome OS release, the Google browser stands as a solid threat for the IE and Firefox domination. So who knows what Santa may bring next?
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