Can Google Chrome topple IE?

Without a doubt the biggest story of the week is that Google has launched its own browser called Chrome. At the moment the browser is only available for windows although a mac and linux will follow shortly.

The launch of Chrome has generated huge publicity and I am sure you are already aware of its emphasis on stability, speed and support for web applications. You probably know too that it is built on webkit so CSS support is good.

The question is whether we will need to start testing our sites in Chrome? Well, take has been strong with figures rising up from 1% to over 6% shortly after launch. But is Chrome going to finally overcome the dominance of Internet Explorer or just cannibalise the market share of IE’s rivals? That is harder to judge.

The browser that finally topples IE will not do so because of quality, but because of brand recognition. If IE was going to fall because of its poor feature set or dodgy rendering it would have done so already. The problem is that most people are quite happy to use IE. It is pre-installed and ready to go. Indeed many simply associate the web with that little blue E.

Sure, other browsers have made remarkable inroads into IE’s market share. However, they have probably pushed as far as they can go. The rest of the market are those people that just don’t care. They know IE, they are familiar with IE. Why change?

Extract from the Google Chrome comic

However, if anybody is going to change that status quo it will be Google. Although many associate that IE icon with the internet, when they click on it they go to the Google homepage. Google has as dominate brand, maybe even more so than Microsoft. If anybody can pursued the hold outs to swap, it is Google.

Google has a huge profile. Never have I seen a browser featured on BBC national news, but today they mentioned the launch of Chrome. They also have a lot of eye balls and with Chrome featured on their minimalist homepage you can expect downloads to go through the roof.

Who knows if they will pull it off. What I do know is that this will certainly be damaging for other browsers especially Firefox which has been heavily backed by Google.

  • It is most defiantly an impressive browser and I have no doubt that it will have huge adoption once developers start to create plugins, however, going back to your original question.
    “can google chrome topple ie?” I’m not sure and I would probably go as far to say absolutely No. I’m not a fan of IE but they do have the biggest market share which even Firefox has struggled to topple.
    But then again, Google have an incredibly large audience(Everybody) and so, I guess they have got a good chance.
    I can’t wait to see what happens.

  • The launch of Chrome seems to be squarely aimed at developers at the moment. Not completely unsurprising considering it is a beta browser. But even without considering the geek-friendly comic strip, the USPs for this browser are still squarely aimed at web professionals. Does the layman care about multiple processes, Gears integration, etc? Even with the corporate world unlikely to adopt Chrome, the way it is being marketed at the moment, it is just as unlikely to be taken up by anyone other than the internet’s hardcore. For the time being anyway.

  • Stoo

    Agree with both Matt and Stephen there…
    For Google to topple anything I’d think they’d have to start pushing Chrome as the only way to receive Gmail/Docs/Cal etc… which would be a very bold move.
    Not sure on the take up with Joe Public though.
    I’ve noticed a few small differences in rendering compared to Safari etc, which does worry me a tad because we’ll end up testing and having to hack around yet another browser? :(

  • @Matt, you make a very good point. They are obviously not even trying to reach the consumer market yet.

  • fma

    All I all, I really don’t think Google will topple IE’s dominance until vendors start pre-installing (and defaulting to) Chrome. Methinks the beta could be short for betamax :)
    Stoo’s comments about rendering differences concern me – how is that even possible? I’m aware there are tiny, minor version differences of WebKit in use: could this be the cause?

  • @Stoo: The differences shouldn’t be too palpable considering both Chrome and Safari run on WebKit. That makes it very similar right off the bat. The differences you see might just be bugs in the beta.
    Anyway I’d say there is a decent chance that Chrome can take over from IE. The problem Firefox saw was that it was released by someone the average user didn’t know and pushed by those who were tech-savvy. That can only take you so far and users who don’t really care what browser they use won’t go too far out of their way to get a different one, even if there are all the benefits in the world.
    However, due to Chrome being a Google project, it’s very easy for users to get it (it’s on their home page) and it’s already causing a major buzz. And if that 6% is any indication this thing could get very big, very quick.
    Also, it sounds like it’s taking share away from IE, mostly. Even if Chrome renders slightly different than Safari or Firefox I don’t care. It’s already not nearly as bad as any version of IE. IE8 only gets 14/100 on Acid3, Chrome already hits 78/100.

  • Re: Can Google Chrome topple IE?

  • Adz

    But this new browser ia (by Google’s admission) similar to an operating system – with threads, processes, and a task manager. Could this be the first step towards a thin client, web based, Google OS?

  • I’m actually really happy with what I have seen. I have been putting off looking at it for a few days – with the thought of another browser to test in – but all my sites look great.
    Even though it looks like it will be used by browser collectors for now, I can see the simplicity of the ‘one bar does all’ really being a benefit for technophobes.
    I also like the idea of the task manager – the idea of single processes was daunting until I noticed it.

  • The marketing is not aimed at Joe public but the actual browser is a usability triumph. Any non web savvy person could point and click their way around Chrome in no time.

  • Perhaps Google will launch an Operating System next.

  • Mike

    Chrome has just hit 10%, however most of that 10% is not eating at IE.

  • Just checked the stats for some of my websites. Most are charities’ websites and on those, on average, only half a percent of visitors were using Chrome. But I run one website that’s mainly read by techies – and that had two and a half percent Chrome users.
    When my non-techie sites start getting 5% Chrome users then I’ll start taking proper notice!
    I installed Chrome and checked out my websites, was relieved to find they looked ok, then went to click the browser’s Home button.. and couldn’t find it. After a while I wondered, am I being dumb or is it actually there?

  • Doug S.

    Jason, you’re not, it’s there, it’s just not displayed automatically. Google has taken the approach that most people don’t use their home page, or that if they do it’s usually a search engine. Because Chrome has a built-in search bar and runs searches through your favourite browser it kind of cuts out the middle-man so to speak.
    However, if you still want to have a home button (as I myself did) I found that you could customise the toolbar and there was one in there.

  • Louie

    The HOME button is there. You just have to click on the WRENCH (tool?) and the BASICS tab has a checkbox to “Show Home button on toolbar.”
    I, for one, am drooling over Chrome. I’ve given some feedback on some pages that looked awkward (like some Facebook applications), but overall I haven’t had a huge problem with it at all.

  • Netscape had a bigger user base than IE once.
    Yes, IE can definitely be toppled.
    I think Chrome looks the most likely contender for ages. In Google, it’s got a Brand recognition that even Microsoft would envy .. to Google is even a verb.
    More importantly, it’s a very good browser and really is the first one that is build for web applications, rather than web pages.
    I still wouldn’t bet against IE .. but I think Chrome has a really good chance of beating it.

  • Good points all. I am a fan of most things Google, but I found Chrome not quite up to expectations. Most significantly were problems with advanced Javascript applets, such as WISYWIG editors. Regarding Facebook, I was unable to do simple things such as delete extraneous posts from my newsfeed–basic functionality I would have expected. (And Twittered about this one or two days after release ( So after a brief trial run, I switched back to Firefox. I’ll wait for the updates before giving it another try. That said, I haven’t used IE for years and can’t imagine going back!

  • Ben

    it may not yet be a replacement for firefox, but with the promised api and extensions it will be a serious competitor. in terms of performance, it is quicker and more stable (in its structure) than all other browsers i have tried.
    as for toppling ie, if anyone can do it google can. i find that most people that use ie only do so because it comes pre-installed on all pc’s. if chrome can be hyped up enough, and bear in mind that google have managed to turn their name into a verb, then it may well move into first place in the browser race.

  • Jon Ward

    There should be some sort of movement to just rid the planet of IE6. Perhaps if all web designers just banded together and everytime someone visited a site using IE6 a virtual hand popped out of the screen and gave them a slap along with the cry “download chrome now you monkey”.

  • @Jon The movement exists. IE Death March.

  • JimH

    Will Chrome beat IE….
    In the Developer/Hardcore internet user world… possibly.
    In the General User internet world…. Never.
    Almost 80% people who use the internet have little or no idea that IE is different to the internet, they don’t know how to install software on their computer and will, probably, use the most up to date version of IE that will install on their version of Windows.
    They don’t know nor care about web standards, XHTML or CSS.
    These people are like my wife, my parents and grand parents. These people use the interent as a tool. Email, weather reports, news reports, TV schedules, Facebook. The browser is just a button on the desktop.
    If people like us go out and install Firefox, Opera or Chrome on their machines, then those browsers will win against IE, but the people using those machines still won’t know or care what browser they use.

  • Hi all,
    I think everybody made a pretty good point about Google toppling IE or not ?
    Mostly we all agree on the possibility for this to happen through the big big impact of Google brand’s on our life and choices.
    One point that has been almost reached, but not really discussed, in the above, was methods for common user acceptance of Chrome.
    We all consider that if there is a company able to shake Microsoft’s tree it is Google with a strong evidence with the brand recognition leverage effect.
    So having Google giving Chrome to the world appears to be a smart move but not enough to steal the heart of common customers (non techie ones)
    However, I think we’re making here a mistake considering Google is targeting only techie staff.
    For sure their comic is not really a reading pleasure for my mother and my sister.
    However, again, I guess Google have understand one important point. Networking.
    Today everybody is networking. A key factor of Chrome acceptance by the masses will most probably be mouth-talk.
    I used to work as a computer support specialist and I know one thing.
    When you’re an expert in your domain, When you are kind enough to explain in usual words benefits of such or such product or solution to your customers.
    When you are patient enough to simply demonstrate the benefits of your interventions as well. In short.. if you’re a good pedagogue. Mr Paul and Mr.Marcus might understand what we’re talking about here :o)
    Then you got the point, they can switch from the “bad” to the “good”.
    I have seen many people switching from PC to Mac despite the price.
    I have seen many going to OpenOffice when they came asking for Microsoft Office
    I have seen many people switching from IE to Firefox (with IE tabs extension for corporate users)
    I clearly thinks it is one of the Google approach. Let’s the word be spread….
    Giving a beta makes everybody happy.
    Techies have a new toy to play with (you web design guys, you are considered as techies here)
    Tech support staff can bring something fresh and simple to their customer (Hey check out this new thing !)
    Medias have a new Google page to write in their Google “evil-pedia” (Will Google drive the world ? Google wants your browser ! The Google effect !)
    The all web got a new buzz to push around: Hey check it out.. so so quick !!!
    and I.. I got an opportunity to post on BoagWorld ;)
    Last point to consider as well.
    The one that will kick out IE from the top of the ladder will need to demonstrate that it can be better to display Microsoft technology based contents (SharePoint especially)
    IE got some bright days still .. but don’t forget, world changes

  • From a technical perspective, Firefox can definitely keep up. Soon Firefox will have a much faster JavaScript engine, for example. But with Google’s visibility Chrome will easily grow a huge user base. They’re already advertising it on AdWords.