Google Chrome: One Year Later
September is almost upon us, and it will mark the first anniversary of Google's Chrome browser. The very first post I ever wrote on Chrome appeared on September 1st of last year, and I can remember the initial thoughts that came to mind when I considered its prospects: Won't it require extensions, like the great ones available for Firefox, to succeed? What kinds of resources will be available for customizing it? What it will mean in terms of the substantial financial support that Google gives to Mozilla Firefox? Will it be cross-platform?
Almost a year after the arrival of Chrome, it's doing reasonably well, although not shaking the Earth. Net Application's latest browser market share data shows Chrome at 2.6 percent of the market, and growing, not far behind Safari's share of 4.1 percent. I continue to believe, though, that an ecosystem of useful extensions, and good versions of Chrome for the Mac and Linux, are essential for its long-term success. On that last front, there is good news emerging.
When Lisa reported on the developer preview of Chrome in June, it had reasonably good performance, but was missing features. Now, as Jack Wallen reports on Linux.com, it's beating other notable browsers on Linux. Wallen reports these benchmarks for example:
Browser start times
* Firefox: 1.94 seconds
* Chrome: .86 seconds
Page load times (linux.com was the page loaded)
* Firefox: 4.96 seconds
* Chrome: 3.35 seconds
"You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly it loads pages and how far this fledgling browser has come in such a short time," Wallen concludes. HIs post includes instructions on installing Chrome on Ubuntu and Fedora.
As far as a polished version of Chrome for the Mac, Google has been dragging its feet, but the daily builds are improving, and important features such as the ability to support Flash and common video formats are coming along. In all likelihood, there will be a beta vesion of Chrome for the Mac this month. The daily builds are here if you want to try it now.
Google is also making progress on encouraging the development of extensions for Chrome, and that appears to be a critical effort. In my opinion, Firefox is the best browser of all because of all the great, community-driven extensions. Chrome is very fast, very crash proof and stable, and is about to compete with Firefox on the top three computing platforms. It has a chance for a really bright future if it also gets solid extensions, and it would behoove Google to provide incentives to the community to create those.
One thing's for sure: Open source competitors are responsible for the lion's share of innovation going on in browsers.