Google took the application development world by storm Sept. 2 with Chrome, a beta of the company's new open source Web browser. But it's more than just a gateway to Google's search and other Web applications.
If Chrome, with its fresh takes on stability, speed, security, privacy and ease of use, proves superior to other Web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, the browser will be the equivalent of a nuclear warhead to use against Google's chief opponent Microsoft.
With Chrome, Google will be able to tie the browser, search and applications together, providing an end-to-end experience on which to place more search, display and other ads in front of users.
Just as Microsoft nuked rivals Novell, Sun Microsystems and others in the desktop market by tethering Windows and IE to PCs, Chrome could become Google's operating system for the Internet, challenging Microsoft's search and other Web apps.
IDC's Al Hilwa noted that with Chrome, browsers for the first time are being thought of as the new Web operating system and so they are inheriting standard isolation features and security that typically had been the province of an OS. He added:
"This is good news. It shows Google's ambition in taking its dominance deeper and broader. With Android, Google took the OS to Web devices, now they are taking it to the PC. I think Chrome provides much needed features for security and the tabs interface do show innovation and out-of-the-box thinking on browsers."
I'd have to think this would shut Microsoft out of the Internet market. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington agreed:
"Microsoft, meanwhile, is stuck with a bloated closed source browser that they don't even tether to their search engine for fear of more antitrust woes. Google can push their search engine and other Web services all day long on Chrome, with no government interference. So not only will Chrome drive lots of incremental revenue to Google, it also paves the way for a Microsoft-free computing experience."
Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish told me that despite Google's deep funding of Mozilla, in which it is the preferred search button on FireFox, Google needed to have its own branded browser with which to combat Microsoft.
"They're coming up with something that can be potentially be more compelling than Microsoft because you're basically eliminating the need for a consumer or a business to have Microsoft on their desktop for the search or browsing tools. They can create a one-stop shop for people to access tools and services and surf the Web."