Google’s Chrome browser is turning 3 today.
Chrome has not been an instant hit. It took Google over half a year to collect more than 2 percent market share as users took time to adjust to the radically different look of the minimalist interface. However, since the second quarter of 2009 Chrome has been adding market share from its rivals IE and Firefox aggressively and has recently broke the 23 percent mark, according to StatCounter. At the current pace, Google will surpass Firefox in November at the 26 percent mark and could exceed IE’s share by mid-2012 at about 32 percent.
As Mozilla challenged Microsoft in 2004 with Firefox and reignited a browser war we thought was long gone, it is Google that has been fueling the battle with a rapid innovation cycle in web browsers that has caused more than one headache for Microsoft and Mozilla. Both have responded to Google’s speed and interface challenge and significantly accelerated their browsers. Mozilla recently also adopted Google’s rapid release cycle model that unveils a new browser version available every six months. Microsoft has also cut its release cycle in half and is generally believed to be on a 1-year release cycle, instead of the previous 2-year cycle (Microsoft does not officially comment on its release cycle).
While the business model of Chrome as well as the Chrome-based Chrome OS is questioned, Chrome has become a critical component in Google’s structure that protects core revenues. Chrome users are strongly tied to the use of Google’s search engine and are seen as key in shielding Microsoft’s attempts to attract search advertising business to Bing. Google said that there are currently 160 million active Chrome users.