Google’s browser is celebrating its 5th google-versery, and in five years it has become a driving factor in getting the Internet to people. It commands a stern 17% of the browser market, and it’s just getting started.
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Five years ago, Google delivered its Chrome browser to surprised audience. Then not-outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer largely downplayed its significance.
“Open source is interesting” – Steve Ballmer
It turns out, Chrome is a lot more than just interesting. But Ballmer wasn’t alone in failing to recognize Chrome’s significance to the world. Back before Chrome, Internet explorer controlled 72% of the market, Firefox had 20%, and Safari had only 7 %.
Before Chrome, Google was a search engine, a widely recognized and insanely successful web app; it has truly become a backbone of the intent. However, without a toolbar or paying a company, such as Mozilla, to get Google’s Search to be the default search in browsers, Google didn’t have a way to deliver its web app.
Chrome changed that. Chrome was focused on speed and simplicity, and after just a day’s release, it held more than 1 percent of the market share.
It lost a full two-thirds of its market share before 2008 was over, and when it came out of beta a few months later it began to steadily rise in percentage yet again. The shift was attributable to a focus on stability and security. Chrome offered a six-week rapid-release cycle, besting the annual updates of other browsers.
Chrome began to offer features that are now commonplace: incognito, or private mode, automatic page translation, sandboxing, supporting tons of next-gen tech, such as HTML5, CSS3, and WebRTC.
In 2009, Google took the phrase “the internet is a platform” literally, a released Chrome OS, and moved on to co-developing its own hardware. 2013 has seen Chromebooks buck the trend other PC’s are contending with, and rose. They managed to grab between 20 and 25% of the cheap laptop market.
Chrome has moved on since, most recently to your TV, and there seems to be no end in sight. Chrome will keep pushing for web-as-platform development, Chrome apps allow the web to run independently of browsers, and the Chrome Web Store offers tons of apps.
Five years ago, the web was a very different place. Since 2008, it’s been glaringly obvious that Chrome has altered the webscape in radical and dramatic ways. If we can infer anything from what Google has done in that time, it’s that the next five years will be about Chrome changing your desktop, your TV and your life.