Whenever Google announces a new major application, it's big news. This week, Google announced a new browser. I have to admit that despite my discomfiture at having yet another browser environment to learn, and to support for our end-customers, I am intrigued.
Google appears to be targeting technorati first—not just the usual technical early adopters, but the developer/architect community. I found the most interesting and useful part of the Chrome launch collateral to be the 38-page Chrome comic book. (Comics are a great way to convey a lot of information quickly. Product marketers of many other categories of products should take note!)
User-Generated Comic Book Parodies!
I wonder whether Google expected users to immediately begin creating spoofs using its own marketing collateral. But that's what has happened. If you want a quick way to see all the negative reactions to Google Chrome, check out these comic parodies:
For those of you who want a shortcut to the technical pros and cons of Chrome, check out Charles Nutter's A Few Thoughts on Chrome.
Anything Google does is important, since Google is the most powerful and most widely used platform on the Internet today. From a business/marketing standpoint, you'll want to be sure that your Web sites and portals are Chrome-friendly. From a technology strategy standpoint, you now have yet another browser and Web application platform to support and to consider when designing information and tools for your prospects, customers, employees, and stakeholders. Think of Chrome as a next-generation Web OS for rich Internet apps.
Google Strategy #1: Track Everything We Do
The biggest "aha" in Google Chrome is that the browser bar and the search bar are now one and the same. This makes a lot of sense to those of us who have become used to just typing a word or phrase to get to the right site(s).
"When you type URLs or queries in the address bar, the letters you type are sent to Google so the Suggest feature can automatically recommend terms or URLs you may be looking for." [So they're logging keystrokes? Doesn't sound good. Note - you can disable this feature; of course, most people won't.]
"Your copy of Google Chrome includes one or more unique application numbers." [Sounds like Google would then be able to connect the dots between sites you've visited on Chrome and your Gmail account. Doesn't sound like privacy to me.]
If you consider Google to be benevolent and like the better search results and speedy access to frequently visited (by you and others) sites, then you may be willing to trust Google with your browsing activity. I am ashamed to admit that I fall into this category of customers. Although I value my privacy, I value my convenience and time even more. I have always been willing to make the trade-off of giving up information about my activities to brands that have earned my trust by providing me good experiences, helping me get things done, and not annoying me. I wonder how many other people there are like me in the world. I realize that my personal attitude is appalling to many of my more realistic and cynical clients and colleagues.
There is an upside for marketers to users' adoption of Google Chrome. Google makes money when businesses make money through ads that work because they actually help prospects locate the goods and services they need, want, or are attracted to. Google has been very aggressive in providing great free tools to marketers to empower them to analyze and continuously improve Web sites, content, ads, ad placement, and so. Even (and especially) small businesses can invest time to master the use of Google's free tools, like Google Analytics, to improve the effectiveness of their organic search, Web site navigation, and, of course, paid advertising. So, the more people actually do more using Chrome, the better will be the information that marketers will be able to leverage.
Google Strategy #2: Provide a Platform for Rich Internet Applications that Live in the Cloud
Google Chrome isn't "just" a browser. It's a Web application platform. Google Gears provides offline functionality for your Web-based apps. Rich Internet Apps can be snapped into the browser as "pages." The first batch of applications includes Google's own applications as well as any other applications that have been written to take advantage of Google Gears. There are (at least) three implications for Internet business strategists to think about.
1. If you are developing, deploying, or using a Web-based (hosted in a cloud or via SaaS) application with rich interactive clients, you'll probably want to add Chrome and Google Gears to your list of "required" technologies to support.
2. If you are using Ajax, Silverlight, and/or Flash to provide rich internet application functionality on your Web sites, they should all (eventually) play reasonably well with Chrome.
3. This is the most obvious one: Will Google provide a more compelling Internet-based platform than Microsoft's Live?
For a good quick take on Chrome's interoperability with Rich Internet Apps, see Samiq Bits' blog post.
Google Strategy #3: Own all the Content on the Internet
Google says it just wants to make it easy for us to access any content we care about. However, the End-User License Agreement (EULA) won't pass muster for anyone who cares about controlling their own copyright and intellectual property. As Dennis Howlett writes in his Chrome's EULA is a Cut 'n' Paste Showstopper post:
"When I said that CXO's wouldn't give Google Chrome a nanosecond's thought, I under-estimated. They'll give it about five seconds and then pass straight to the corporate legal department. Why? EULA Clause 11.1:
You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
[Dennis Howlett's emphasis added above.] "Given that the smart money is saying this is Google's move on delivering an OS for the web that happens to have a browser, just how many corporate legal departments are going to allow web apps to run across a service with these terms? I can tell you now: zero."
Google Strategy #4: Capture the Always On Mobile Search and Browse Market
For some time, I have been interested in Google's open source Android platform for the design of mobile devices. Android is beginning to gain traction. I expect a number of mobile players to introduce Android-capable devices, opening up the extensibility of handheld mobile devices.
One of our Pioneers, nano-optics technologist, Scott Jordan, pointed out a little-remarked aspect in the "Chrome as Web platform" discussion. Note: Chrome makes use of the same streamlined open source browser engine—WebKit—that Apple uses in its Safari browser and on its iPhone.
"Overlooked in most reportage of Chrome's introduction was Google's almost offhand comment that it would be a foundational element of the Android architecture, which for now is regarded as an OS for cell-phones. And it will be, but there will be more to it than that.
Since, early on, the (WebKit-based) Safari browser in the iPhone quickly contributed a 50X uptick in mobile Googling, seems to me that Chrome's deployment in portable devices will be more momentous than as yet another desktop alternative to IE, FireFox, Opera, etc. etc."
Chrome Will Be Slow to Take Off. I believe the uptake for Chrome will be pretty slow. Much slower than that of Mozilla's Firefox, for example, which had a strong customer advocacy behind it. But I do think it's worth watching. I'd love to hear your comments!
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