I promise this will be my last post about Chrome for awhile, but one thing that has struck me since the world’s newest browser was unveiled on earlier this week is what took Google so long to do it.
In Wired’s “Inside Chrome” story, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is seen as being anti-browser when the idea was raised by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001. “I did not believe that the company was strong enough to withstand a browser war,” he said. “It was important that our strategic aspirations be relatively under the radar.”
Schmidt’s reluctance can be somewhat understood given Google was still relatively small in 2001 but it is strange that it took until 2006 until the browser project was finally given the green light.
So what changed?
Was it the realization cloud computing made it a strategic necessity for Google to have its own browser? And why build a browser when Firefox was, in many respects, acting as Google’s browser proxy in the battle against Microsoft – a battle that Google was financially supporting through its search referral deal with Mozilla.
The other interesting thing about Chrome’s debut is how the critics have started to emerge after the initial burst of frenzied excitement. This includes a focus on Chrome’s end-user licensing terms, privacy issues related to the Omnibox, and whether Chrome is actually faster than Firefox.
Critics are part of any ecosystem, and often they yell a lot louder than proponents. But the push back against Chrome is strikingly similar in tone to what Microsoft usually receives, which says something about Chrome and, more important, something about how people now perceive Google.