Sony’s stable of Vaio laptops will soon come bundled with Google’s Chrome browser. It’s a major victory for Google, which so far commands just 2.8 percent of the browser market. But it’s also a call to arms for the company.
Although Google Chrome is celebrated by consumers who have had a chance to zip around the Web at speeds that are much faster than the competition, the enterprise has yet to see any real value in it. And given the fact that it’s still so far from achieving the kind of success Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or even Mozilla’s Firefox browsers have, it’s tough to say Google’s deal with Sony will deliver lasting change in the marketplace.
Google Chrome is easily one of the most capable browsers on the Web. It might not have the proprietary-software support Internet Explorer relies on or the add-ons that make Firefox so compelling, but it has speed. In my experience, it’s the fastest browser on the market.
It loads pages far more quickly than the competition, thanks to its lightweight design. It also has some nice features, like the listing of recently browsed sites that makes it easy to go back to where I left off. And with such a simple menu system, getting work done takes no time. Chrome is a great browser.
That’s especially true for consumers. Google Chrome boasts several features that would make just about home user happy. As mentioned, it has speed and a simple menu system. It has a nice design. It’s safe. It’s secure. And it provides a far more reliable experience than Internet Explorer.
But Chrome isn’t without its faults. One of the browser’s biggest issues is that it doesn’t have extensions. Firefox has made that a key to its success. Even Opera Software’s Opera browser has widgets that enhance its appeal. Chrome also isn’t available to Mac OS X users. Granted, that accounts for a very small percentage of the market, but it’s a glaring omission, especially as consumers start moving to Apple products.
Regardless, Chrome seems like the perfect fit for Vaio computers. Sony’s laptops have, so far, not done enough to appeal to consumer desire. It’s still very much a three-company race in the PC market between Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Acer. Sony’s computers are lagging far behind.
Breaking the Enterprise Barrier
Chrome won’t be the “killer app” that will make Dell owners switch to a Vaio, but it’s a smart branding move by Sony. It can now tell the world that Google, one of the most highly respected companies in the market, has brought its browser to Sony laptops. The move ensures that, at least when it comes to software, Sony is doing what it can to appeal to consumers.
But Chrome’s appeal ends with consumers. Although Chrome’s simplicity and speed might appeal to businesses, it’s the fact that so many of those companies rely on Internet Explorer to get their work done that will preclude them from opting for Google Chrome.
Google Chrome is not an enterprise browser. As much as Google wants to take aim at Microsoft in practically every market it’s in, it can’t compete with the software giant in the browser space. Internet Explorer, with all its faults and security problems, is perfectly suited for the enterprise. It integrates seamlessly with Windows-another enterprise favorite-and, perhaps more importantly, works with just about any proprietary software companies might employ.
When companies deploy software and allow access to those programs from the Web, more often than not, it’s Internet Explorer that employees will need to use to access the program. Admittedly, Internet Explorer’s grip on enterprise software is eroding as more companies move to the cloud, but that erosion is taking place slowly. So far, Internet Explorer reigns supreme.
Companies rely on Microsoft’s software in their daily operation. From IT managers requiring employees to use Internet Explorer to software requiring its use for work away from the office, Microsoft’s browser has become a staunch enterprise ally. If Firefox, a leading browser, hasn’t been able to break down that barrier, why would Google Chrome have any more luck?
I’ll be the first to admit that Chrome is a stellar browser. It has features even enterprise users want. But since it isn’t integrated with enterprise software and most IT managers are content with Internet Explorer, it has little chance of making a splash in the enterprise space.
So while it’s nice to see another browser besides Internet Explorer and Safari come bundled with computers, it’s debatable how much of an impact Chrome will have. Before it can start taking big strides in the browser market, it will need to overcome the enterprise’s strong support for Internet Explorer. And right now that seems like a daunting task.