Google Chrome: First Impressions

Google Chrome hits the shelvesJust when you thought it was safe to call a truce in the browser wars, Google comes up and hits you in the face with a cream pie.  Sure, you think it’s funny at first and perhaps it tastes pretty good, but it might spell trouble for online marketers.  Find out why Google Chrome, the newest web browser on the scene is causing a stir – good and bad.

The good news is this.  More competition equals more better, right?  I’d have to say it’s a “definite maybe”, considering many are split between Internet Explorer and FireFox.  Sorry Mac dudes, Safari doesn’t count from an analytics perspective.  Internet Explorer is still widely favored in the web browsing world, most likely because it’s preloaded into Windows (one would think).  Why anyone still uses IE is beyond me, but they do – in groves.

Enter Google.

After hearing rumors that the upcoming release of Internet Explorer 8 will allow people to block ads, including Google Sponsored Search (Adwords) text ads, Google hit the accelerator on releasing Chrome.  Knee jerk reaction or preplanned?  Who cares, the important thing is, Google is now playing for keeps in total desktop dominance:

  • Number 1 search engine in the world (minus China): OWNED
  • Default search engine in Mozilla FireFox: OWNED
  • Maps, Apps, Earth, Desktop, 411: OWNED
  • Mobile: FAIL (kinda)

No one’s perfect.  But the point is, the browser is really the last frontier Google had left to enter.  I’m not saying it’s a huge winner by any stretch of the imagination, but it has the potential for being really good.

Luckily, it has a lot going for it to make it a significant forerunner in the web browser world:

  • Chrome is open source: meaning it could create a following like FireFox for add-ons like themes, plugins and extensions.
  • Chrome plays nice with CSS and XHTML: unlike Internet Explorer that requires special coding to get around really FUBAR compliance issues, Chrome just works.
  • Chrome is fast: noticeably faster than anything else, at least for now.  We’ll see how fast it stays after a few months of usage.  Maybe it’s time to clean out my cache in FireFox and IE?
  • It’s baby-Daddy is Google: these guys know people, and they’ll get you using their products one way or another, but you’ll like it.
  • It’s foe is Microsoft: I’m sure there are plenty of folk at Google that simply hate Microsoft because of Internet Explorer.  The old saying goes, if you can do better, I’d like to see it.  So here it is: Chrome.

Fortunately, Google Chrome is still in beta, so instead of ranting on and on about what it’s lacking and the problems I noticed straight away, I’ll keep my criticism constructive:

  • Community support.  I’m hoping they’re making inroads with plenty of developers that are tired of drinking the Microsoft Kool Aid.  Free tools and access to APIs and such might help.
  • Reverse DNS seems to be broken.  I.e. if you’re in, oh, Canada let’s say and hit up Google.com, it’d be nice to be automatically redirected to Google.ca.  Could have serious consequences for anyone with multiple multi-national Adwords campaigns.  Maybe it’s just me and I’m unresolveable.
  • Unknown browser type.  According to Woopra, I’m known.  According to Omniture, I’m unknown.  Depending on your view, this might be a good thing.  For the paranoid public it’s a nice thing, for web developers and marketers it’s a bad thing.  But this is temporary, I’m sure.

Well, it looks like my constructive criticism list for Google Chrome is short, meaning they must have done a pretty decent job.  This is certainly a release that will go down as pivotal in the months to come, especially keeping in mind that Android is in the works and Internet Explorer 8 is nearly public.  Should be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

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