Gbrowser in the Works?

I love it when old stories resurface like so many TV spin-offs and movie sequels. Rumors that Google is creating a Web browser are again afoot thanks to some healthy speculation from Netconcepts Search Strategist Chris Silver Smith.

Smith theorized that the search engine may be cooking up the ole Gbrowser after reading Ryan Naraine's post saying Google had hired browser security expert Michal Zalewski to help make its products more secure.

Despite Google's past denials, the company has registered the domain name. While this is no sure proof that Google is crafting a browser, it certainly shows that the company has thought about it and is keen on keeping the seeds in hand for planting.

Google continues to play a coy hand. In response to a question about the Google browser rumor, a spokesperson wrote me that "Google is always working on all kinds of exciting things and we have nothing to announce at this time."

What would Google hope to achieve with a browser? Microsoft's share of world domination? Hardly, but it could eliminate a reliance on Firefox and give Google a proprietary platform that could better hew to and even improve the performance of its Google Apps suite, which includes Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Docs & Spreadsheets.

After all, Google Apps will become increasingly important as Google seeks to sell the collaboration software to more and more businesses.

While this sounds like a familiar story arc authored by Microsoft in the 1990s, the model is Web-based and therefore different. This is, as they say, uncharted territory.

While Microsoft sells its collaboration software in downloadable packages, Google hosts the Apps businesses use on its own server. One could argue Google Apps gives Google too much control over a business using the products. To make Apps soar, Google needs your faith and trust.

Is Google creating a browser? I don't know, but perhaps a better question might be whether or not we want it to. Remember, Internet Explorer gave Microsoft tremendous control over the way people accessed the Web.

A Google browser could be a similar double-edged sword, giving users great performance while allowing Google to get its hooks deeper into its customers.