A year or so ago i went to a Salesforce.com event in which they trotted out a Google Apps exec to support their no software message. The guy (I forget his name) was delayed coming into Sydney and so was pretty jet lagged. His only piece of take home message “ we’re [at Google] a big believer in the no software message”
Kinda interesting considering you have to download and install the Chrome software (as an aside is the browser morphing to legendary status, the same but different from ‘software’). This aside, the point was this. Cloud delivered applications require a robust internet connection and a browser.
This dependency on the browser and its ability to arbitrage Google has meant they’ve had to act and build something. This to me is the same play as Android, something I wrote about a wee while ago. It has nothing to do with the browser, but everything to do with the internet services that Google wants to deliver or protect. Search, advertising and apps.
Android is about giving Google a play mobile where they have no current advertising stream. Chrome is about a applications platform (and i suspect) a tool to get more information about web habits (which will enhance the advertising business). Google needs this because the ability for adds to be blocked in a browser by a plugin (see Nick Carr’s two pieces on Adblock) or by an ISP are trivial. This represents a very real threat to Google’s lifeblood… and to their credit they’ve innovated.
Microsoft is trying to but is clearly struggling… the browser as the OS of the future isn’t a picture that they particularly want. For that reason I believe they should get the hell outta the consumer market and focus on business. (more on this in a latter post). Microsoft are also failing in the mobile space. This piece by Tim O’Reilly really sums up the mess they’ve gotten themselves into. It also supports my hypothesis, Google’s building platforms that they are hoping will be web on-ramps. How successful they are in doing this will be interesting, given the issues they’ve had with robustness before. I actually don’t think they care if Chrome dominants or not, I believe that as long as there are others who jump on their path and deliver the same outcome…. Ads served up, easy and reliable access to applications they will be happy