Google has just announced that they will be releasing their own open source browser: Chrome. They’ve preferred an interesting approach instead of a press release, and they’ve posted this comic which tells us what Chrome is all about.
Google has been investing in different domains, and I can see them focusing on two main targets: becoming a data processor who provides information using huge amounts of data, and an application provider who focuses on web based apps.
Chrome shows that Google will be attacking the web based application development domain harder. They already have solutions like Google Gears and Google web toolkit which give a serious set of abilities to web based applications. Actually, when you include google gears in the mix, browser based applications is a better definition, because you can even use browser based applications that use google gears when you are not connected to internet at all. In this approach, web becomes a distribution medium, and browser becomes the platform.
So why a browser of their own? Simple, the controlled environment advantage. During my use of Google Web Toolkit, I’ve noticed that even if Google has spent a huge effort for providing a cross browser solution, there are various problems ranging from performance to compatibility issues. Especially when you start pushing the technology towards less used features and scenarios. Microsoft has created a tremendous advantage in the past by focusing on its own controlled ecosystem, and Google is doing the same (at least attempting to do the same) with Chrome. Join Google Web Toolkit, google hosted apps, and google gears with a browser, and you have all you need for large scale web apps which can compete in the enterprise systems and business applications field.
On the other hand, Microsoft is pushing very hard to make sure that the user experience on their platforms is unique, and WPF and Silverlight is an answer to Google, although it does not have anyting like Google hosted apps at the back.
One other thing to remember is that Google has tried other products and domains before, and there is now huge pile of abandoned products by Google, which shows they have not found what they’ve been looking for in those domains. If Google Chrome fails, failure being not being adopted as a serious application development platform, then Google is in serious trouble. They are trying to pull web based applications and their development to a new approach, which is defined and dominated mostly by them. If they fail, this will encapsulate them into search domain only, which is a questionable benefit in the long run.