Google Chrome and a History Lesson

Written on September 4, 2008 – 7:49 am | by Brian Wallace |

Ah, the great browser wars. For but a moment, we’re magically whisked away to the innocent Internet of days past.

Netscape NavigatorWhen you could buy Netscape Navigator in a box at a store! For those of you that missed that whole era, you might consider reading The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story, a great tale of Netscape and Jim Clark, its co-founder. Just to catch you up – Netscape totally dominated the market, that is, until Microsoft came along and started bundling Internet Explorer with windows.

If you go back to 1996, you’ll find Netscape at over 80% domination, with IE not even with 10% of the market (remainder was mostly Mosaic, but that’s a whole other story).

Then came Internet Explorer’s rise to power. (ok, I’m skipping Mosaic, Opera and the like). We see the 90% IE / 10% Netscape mark strike in October 2001.

5 Years. 5 years for the browser war to declare its next victor.

And it sure ain’t over yet, we’ve still got 7 years of history to account for.

Along came something we all now know as Firefox – and going by statistics from, it took Firefox about 2 years to capture 1% of the browswer market. And we’re talking about 2000-2002, back when there were far fewer people on the web as there are today.

Fast forward to today – Firefox is closing in on 19% of the market share. Mostly Mac (and don’t forget iPhone) based Safari is starting to grow at a nice clip too – over 6%.

Google Chrome

Enter Google Chrome. Google is doing a lot of things right with this super secret project that’s now been blogged all over the place. Don’t believe me? Try installing it on your Mac Linux Windows XP / Vista box and going to a site you like. You’ll find that Chrome will load faster than just about anything out there. Granted, my Firefox browser would be faster without all my awesome plugins weighing it down, but Google is really pulling out all the stops.

There are plenty of issues with Chrome – flash issues, bugs, security vulnerabilities, major concerns in its EULA (that are supposedly being addressed).

But here’s the thing.

TGDaily reports that Google Chrome has captured an incredible 1% of the browser market in just nine hours. Ok, let’s consider that the number may be nonsense, non-sustainable, people use multiple browswers,and all other distractors. But remember what we just said. It took Firefox 2 years to get 1%, and that’s when the web population was much smaller in 6 years back.

Google Chrome comic

And it’s got a kickass comic book telling it’s story (must read, by the way).

So what’s different this time? If you read this blog, you know what I’m going to say: social media! 🙂 The forefront of tech adopters abuzz about the latest and greatest. Chrome came along and gave Opera a wedgie and stole Flock’s lunch money – all before bedtime after it’s first day of school. Not a bad Labor Day. I’m very interested to hear your thoughts about your web browser journey, and if your journey will include Chrome.

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  1. 14 Responses to “Google Chrome and a History Lesson”

  2. By meta4man on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    Nice take on it all, and good point. I never realized that Netscape had that Market share. I never really liked it tho I do still have the disk that they mailed me after I paid the shipping.

    Google definitely has a bigger stick to wield than Firefox or anyone does against IE, and good for them. The security issue has me stalled on using it anymore, but it sure seemed faster to me.

  3. By JH on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    I think the difference is less social media and more promotion via a link on Google’s home page. Folks who haven’t seen the power of promoting something via that mechanism (and in a former day, the AOL ‘welcome screen’) have trouble understanding just how much behavior that can drive.

  4. By that jon jackson on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    i didn’t know that 1% of the market share in 9 hours. That’s pretty crazy. I installed it on the first day and then uninstalled it and am going to re-install it now that the EULA has been changed.

  5. By SilentJay74 on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    I have to disagree with you on that point my good man. Social Media played a huge part. Even before official launch there was a story on Digg about how there was an accidentally cached download of Chrome before Google made it public. So people were already passing it around. I work for an extremely large IT firm and Chrome was present on PC’s before launch, mainly due to that story, and techies tweeting the hell out of it. Also the Chrome launch countdown was all over Social Media and Social News sites, so people were waiting in the wings. So yes, Social Media played a huge part.

  6. By erichansa on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    fast internet

  7. By Murty BVNS on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    The social media played a great part whether it is Firefox3 download or Google Chrome. I got 32 messages in the first hour of release of Chrome ” Do you know Google has released new browser ?” either it is from microblogs or instant messages. Now the socailmedia is playing what telephony used to do in older times. Now it is the modern grapewine and its impact cant be denied.

  8. By JH on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    @SilentJay74: I think we should do the math. What is the size of the internet audience? What is 1% of that number? And what is the size of the “social media” audience?”. Even if every single person who viewed an article on Chrome in the first 9 hours downloaded it, it wouldn’t be 1% of the internet audience. The only way to get that kind of effect is very high impact mass-market: the Google home page.

    Unless we’re only talking about 1% of the audience viewing some social media site. That’s a very different number than the NN, IE, and FF numbers referenced above.

  9. By FĂ©licien Breton on Sep 4, 2008 | Reply

    The forces of social pressure are indeed tremendous. Yet the society will lose diversity if the Web usage is shared between Apple, Microsoft and Google.
    Google and Mozilla are partners. Google is still moving forward to controlling search engines and web platforms. By the time it will be prosecuted by antitrust measures it will be too late.
    Each webmaster can contribute to diminish IE market share while keeping Firefox market share by pushing IE users to switch to Firefox.

  10. By Rucker on Sep 6, 2008 | Reply

    Hate to say it, but I think you’re both right. And I’m wrong. I thought it would be a joke. A bomb. I thought, why would they try to do something that Firefox is finally starting to make a dent in? They have their paws in both cookie jars.

    Now I understand, and I think it was SM, homepage, and everything else that made it a quick and potentially long-lived success.

  11. By Edwin on Sep 7, 2008 | Reply

    Its popular because it is linked in the Google homepage which its the biggest viewed site on the planet, that’s the simple truth. Oh, also because of the brand, GOOGLE.

    That’s the reason it got and will continue to get a big market share.

  12. By Brian Wallace on Sep 10, 2008 | Reply

    @meta4man – thanks, it should be interesting to see how Google plays their clout.

    @JH – I’m not discrediting a link on Keep in mind though that social media can really spread things out these days.

    @that jon jackson – 1% is crazy, and that was the impetus of writing this article.

    @SilentJay74 – here here.

    @erichansa – ok…

    @Murty BVNS – exactly, I was bombarded too! 🙂 And that’s the difference. I might not otherwise have been curious to have clicked it from Google.

    @FĂ©licien Breton – yup, everyone leave IE. Now. 🙂

    @Rucker – no question that Google and social are both a factor.

    @Edwin – yes, but that isn’t the sole reason. If you’re reading and commenting on this blog, you are involved in social media too.

  13. By Yellow SEO on Mar 28, 2009 | Reply

    Chrome is moving very fast in the browser market. I was just looking at Feb 2009 stats at w3schools Google Chrome is already at 4% which is more then Safari and Opera.

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