With Chrome, Google Busts a Move Right Out of Microsoft's Playbook

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 21, 2008

Hmm, in all the talk I've seen about how Google will proceed with spreading Chrome out to new platforms, and to mobile devices, I haven't seen any discussion of the company pursuing the idea of getting its open source browser pre-installed on hardware platforms. Now, Google is confirming that it will probably do just that. It is likely to pursue deals with major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to put Chrome on their computers and devices. This is a move straight out of Microsoft's 1990s playbook. If Mozilla could get aggressive about this too, we could see Internet Explorer facing more serious competition than ever.

For millions of computer users around the world, a blue "e" means Internet. The "e" icon representing Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser stares right at them from their desktops when they buy new computers. That's how Internet Explorer gained what was once more than 95 percent share of the browser market, taking that market share directly from Netscape, which once had over 80 percent share. Microsoft's share now sits at 71 percent according to Net Applications, which provides this informative graphic, showing market share:

Firefox is the primary browser that has driven Internet Explorer's market share erosion, by arriving first with innovations such as tabbed browsing, and by encouraging a flourishing universe of useful browser extensions. But, at least on the PC side, Internet Explorer remains the browser that buyers of new hardware see after unboxing. Microsoft was required by the Justice Department to allow for other browsers on new hardware, but go down to your local Best Buy and stroll around to see which browser is staring back at you on the computers.

Now, Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google, has told The Times of London:

"We will probably do distribution deals. We could work with an OEM and have them ship computers with Chrome pre-installed."

Google, much more so than Mozilla, has enough global brand recognition, money, and savvy to make a big deal of this. What Pichai is talking about there is exactly how Internet Explorer gained its dominance. Microsoft wooed Dell, Compaq, HP, Gateway, Acer and many other companies into making its browser the default choice on Windows desktops.

Chrome currently has just under one percent market share, according to NetApplications. That number could rise significantly through this effort. Mozilla doesn't have the kind of money required to get the significant deals in this space, but Google definitely does.

By the way, Pichai also confirmed that Mac and Linux versions of Chrome will arrive in the first half of next year, which Kristin was writing about here.