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Sep 3 2008   1:46PM GMT

Google Chrome’s tremendous upside potential

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Google Chrome isn’t anything special as a Web browser — at least not yet.

Sure, Chrome is fast and clean-looking. But it really doesn’t have any “Cool! I wish I’d thought of that!” features that dramatically improve the browsing experience. So what’s all the fuss about?

One word: potential.

Hubie BrownOr three words, if you’re Hubie Brown: tremendous upside potential.

Google partners see the browser as a way to lure Microsoft Office users into using Google Apps instead. But that’s just the beginning. The blogosphere is awash in discussion about the different ways that Google and even solution providers could one day use Chrome to their advantage:

  • Advertising: Google could use Chrome to collect even more data about user behavior, which it could in turn use to charge even more money for even more targeted advertising, according to The New York Times’ Bits blog. Google’s already the undisputed king of online advertising. Putting its browser to use in this way would set Microsoft back even further in its so-far-failed attempts to catch up.
  • Operating system: Google says this isn’t the case — they call it a “Web app engine,” not a “Web app OS” — but regardless, Chrome is designed to optimize Web-based applications. If, as Google predicts, the business world becomes less dependent on on-premise software, reliance on browsers will grow as reliance on operating systems falls. As GigaOM’s Om Malik points out: “In order for web applications to match the desktop applications they seek to replace, these browsers need to start offering OS-like functionality. … Google’s Chrome browser embodies such an approach.”
  • Managed services: If businesses shift away from operating systems, specifically Windows, the solution providers that deliver services to operating systems will also have to adapt. That’s the argument made by MSPmentor, who says that managed service providers should consider supporting Google Chrome, Apps and Android — three offerings “that could change the rules of corporate servers, desktops and mobile devices.”

aw snapOf course, there’s still a lot of uncertainty around Chrome. Users have complained that it lacks the add-ons and extensions that have made Firefox so popular. There are privacy concerns. And for some reason, on my home PC, every time I try to load a new page, I get an error message that says “aw, snap!”

(On a side note, could they have picked a more outdated saying for a “hip” error message? Did they also consider “whoop, there it isn’t!” and “Homey don’t play that!”?)

Still, the potential of Chrome is real. And for solution providers who figure out how to harness that potential, there could be a tremendous upside.

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