Google Chrome: Will This Be One Of The Hyped GOOG Products That Sticks?

Staci D. Kramer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008; 3:07 PM

Several years after it was first expected, Google joins the browser wars today in its own name after participating primarily as the default search engine in Mozilla's Firefox. Of course, it's not just a browser?Google Chrome is an open-source combo browser and platform with a Swiss-Army knife set of roles: add to the anti-Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT) arsenal, give the user yet one more reason to stay in the Google ecosystem, give Google more control over data, etc. It's also quite possible that it will draw more away from Mozilla's Firefox than from Microsoft Internet Explorer; both have new versions out with IE8, still in beta, giving users privacy controls that could threaten Google ( NSDQ: GOOG). All of this relies on getting real traction. The take from some analysts:

Ben Schachter, UBS: "A GOOG browser will enable improved access to data and user behavior w/out relying on MSFT. As a platform, Chrome may improve GOOG's ability to deliver products/apps and further drive its cloud computing plans. Before we get too excited, let's see the product and GOOG's ability to push it (incl pre-installation on new hardware/devices). GOOG has launched many products with much hype that have gone nowhere. Plus, while Chrome may increase search share, it may also increase TAC if GOOG needs to push it through OEM and other partner channels."

Doug Anmuth, Lehman Brothers: Anmuth picks up on the number of times Google said it didn't see a way to really innovate browsing. "That appears to have changed as Google Chrome will feature an enhanced version of JavaScript, more stable tabbed browsing, and greater simplicity, among other benefits. We also point out that Google's strategy is now more web-centric?not just focused on search?as the company delivers richer applications through the browser." As for possible gains, he sees modest potential in the U.S. and UK desktop browser market, suggesting it could hit 15-20 percent in two years (half the time it took Firefox), greater potential in countries where Google has less search presence?and the greatest in the mobile market. "? We believe the benefits could be more significant in lower market share geographies like Korea and China where Google search is far less penetrated. Chrome's biggest benefit, however, could come on mobile devices if Google bundles Chrome into Android and gains distribution on other devices."

Mark May, Needham: "We like this move by Google and believe it can help to increase or at least maintain the company's leading search market share, and help increase adoption of Google apps. ... Chrome is also clearly another jab at Microsoft (N/R), which has dominated the browser and desktop environments since inception. In its unstated battle w/Microsoft, we now wonder when Google might release an (Ubuntu-based) operating system. (Full PDF report.)


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