Google Chrome Turns One: A Few Questions and Answers

6. How deeply will Chrome be integrated with other Google projects? It'll include Gears. Will it tie into Google Maps and Google Print and Google Desktop and the 18,432,922 other Google projects in ways that a non-Google browser wouldn't?

One year later: Every once in awhile, I ask members of the Chrome team if they plan to meld their browser with Google services. They either don't quite understand what I'm getting at, or want to tapdance around the issue-maybe because of the potential of criticism for Microsoftian conflicts of interest. I know of no real integration of Chrome with Google services, and the only place I've seen the company suggest that Google services are best used in a Google browser is in that Gmail notification.

7. Or to put that last question another way, will Google services work better in Chrome than other browsers? A conspiracy theorist could easily come up with scenarios in which Google starts to tie together its offerings in ways that resemble the tactics that Microsoft used in the 1990s to drive IE adoption and discourage use of Netscape. Google is too smart and too well intentioned to go down that route in the same way, I'm sure. But even a company with good intentions might do things that reasonable people (or even the courts think are anti-competitive.

One year later: Again, Google does tell Gmail users that the service runs faster in Chrome. But I think the message there is not "We conspired to make our e-mail work best in our browser" so much as "Chrome runs rich AJAX services great, and Gmail is a rich AJAX service."

8. Just how popular could Chrome get? Can it get to ten percent marketshare? Twenty? Forty? Ninety? Firefox has shown that it's possible for a good new browser to gain plenty of traction, and Chrome will have advantages that even Firefox doesn't have in terms of distribution.

and

9. Who will it steal users from? Kara says that Chrome is at least a part a response to Google concerns that IE 8 may be bad for Google's search-and-advertising business. So the company would presumably be pleased if IE users jump ship for Chrome. But if you can divide the world into folks who will switch to a better browser and those who won't, a high percentage of the former group has likely already moved to Firefox. You can imagine a scenario in which the arrival of Chrome results in Firefox's marketshare gains stalling. Or even in Firefox use eroding.

One year later: Chrome is getting more popular-but not at a particularly spectacular clip. New research says that Firefox has 23.3 percent market share (and growing) and Chrome has eked out 2.9 percent so far. And here's a chart of how the two browsers compare in usage over at PCWorld.com-it shows Chrome growing slowly but steadily, and Firefox bumping around a bit but seemingly not losing users to Chrome in any consistent fashion:

One year later: Even Android's browser isn't called Chrome. Google did indeed decide to take Chrome new places, but it was in operating system form rather than onto new platforms as a browser.

So there you go. Let's end this with a few more questions 365 days later, and very brief answers...

Is it still hard to tell just how serious Google is about Chrome? Yes.

Is it a good sign that Google has released three major versions in the browser's first year?Probably.

Do you worry that the existence of Chrome OS means that Chrome-the-browser is no longer an exciting shiny thing that Google will lavish attention on? I do.

Is it frustrating that it's a year later and Chrome still isn't finished for Macs? Definitely.

Do you harbor a secret fantasy that Google's big Chrome birthday celebration today will include the release of Chrome for OS X? How'd you guess?

Do you use Chrome? Yes, much of the time when I'm using a Windows PC.

Is the world a better place because Google got into the browser business? I think so, yes.

Has the world changed because Google got into the browser busine ss? Not much. At least not yet. Less than I might have guessed, anyhow.

If you've got any other questions, answers, or reflections on Chrome as it turns one, I'd love to hear them...

Harry McCracken is founder and editor of Technologizer. For more smart takes on technology, visit Technologizer.com.

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