Another day, another new Web browser
A few weeks back, we talked about the entry of cuil.com
, a new search engine developed by ex-employees of Google
, into the search-engine market.
In light of the dominance of Google's search engine, it seemed nonsensical to many to release such a product.
Well, Google has turned the tables on us as it recently announced the release of a new browser, dubbed "Chrome," into a market with seemingly no room for a new competitor.
Chrome is still a "beta" or test release, but it promises a neat set of features. Chief among these is the "Omni Box," a combination address and search box that allows users to enter either a Web site address or a search term and let Chrome figure it out from there.
This would have been a huge leap 10 years ago, before folks knew the difference between a URL and a search term. Still, a nice feature, albeit a little late.
Another interesting feature in Chrome is dubbed "Incognito." Basically, Incognito lets you surf the Web without recording any trace of the sites you've visited. Dubbed "porn mode" by many, Incognito has other uses than hiding visits to untoward Web sites, such as checking e-mail on public computers. Yeah, that's it. Note that other browsers have, or have announced a similar feature.
While these are nice features, they don't seem to be enough to garner a foothold for Chrome against the other browsers out there. Especially when the market leader, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, has upwards of 70 percent of the market and the benefit of being bundled with Microsoft's Windows operating system. Mozilla's Firefox has about 20 percent of the market, and Google and Mozilla already have a cozy relationship. Other browsers, such as Opera and Apple's Safari serve their niche markets well.
Actually, the main feature of Chrome is one that may not pay dividends right away, but instead positions the product well for Google's vision of the future Internet. Google's claim is that Chrome is faster than its competition, especially when visiting feature-heavy Web sites.
Google is banking that more and more feature-heavy applications will be available via the Web. Already, there are a handful of Web-based office-productivity software applications available, such as Google Docs, ThinkFree Online and Zoho Office. These are all free. While none of them yet begin to approach the functionality of Microsoft Office or even OpenOffice, it isn't hard to see that improvements are inevitable. Such improvements, however, come with a trade-off, namely, speed. Some of the speed issues may be resolved with faster Internet connections, but it is clear that browsers will need to improve as well.
The best browser for such applications may well be able to dominate the industry as Microsoft has for so many years. Google is hopeful that Chrome will be this browser.