The day Google rules the world

"Living in a Microsoft World, and I am a Microsoft girl" could have been a remixed version of Madonna's Material Girl back in 2008.  The Washington State giant ruled the internet world, with over 90% of internet users using a Windows-based PC and accessing their favourite websites via Internet Explorer.  Sure, it crashed (a lot) and IE was clunky, but many of us had grown up using dial up internet connections and to us this was the future.
We used MSN to communicate with our friends; we edited our pictures using Microsoft Picture Manager and we shared them on Outlook Express.  There was no alternative to Powerpoint and Excel had become a verb.  No wonder Steve Ballmer acted like this when he came on to present at their annual conference.

But life isn't so sweet up in Redmond, Washington State these days.  Firstly open source operating systems such as Linux have eaten away into the operating system market, and then came the Steve Jobs fuelled Mac revival. The launch of the iPad has revolutionised the laptop market forever and people now understand the power of true mobile computing.  Facebook has taken over our lives and their in-built messenger product has become so much of a threat to MSN that they have had to integrate it into their operating system.  Let me repeat that.  Microsoft have had to integrate someone else's superior product into theirs to stop customers leaving.

But one of their last bastion of powers will reach a major milestone at some point in the next couple of months.  The dominance of Internet Explorer will finally be over.  Despite the fast initial growth of Mozilla's Firefox browser, it is the upstart from Google, Chrome, that will overtake IE in the near future.  Back in 2009 Internet Explorer was used by around 63% of users.  Now that figure has fallen to around 36%, with Chrome just a few percentage points behind after a spectacular rise since it was introduced in 2008.

Chrome and Firefox browser graph

Despite many people having a reluctance to embrace Google and all that she can offer, the increase in popularity of the browser can be down to a number of factors, namely:-

  • Stability - Chrome is built on open source code which has enabled fast deployment of big fixes;

  • Trust - Despite all the worries of Google and what happens to personal data, People trust the simple, clutter-free approach of their interface;

  • Extensions - Chrome has over 11,000 extensions that can make surfing so much easier for a user, ranging from automatic page translation to a tool that can preview any links within a body of text;

  • Speed - Chrome is relatively lightweight and is thus fast.  The introduction of changes in their search algorithm to include the likes of Google Instant means that users can get the most relevant search results significantly quicker than using IE.

But does using Chrome put too many of your eggs in one basket?  With one of the most popular web-based email platforms (Gmail), the dominance in the Search market, the most popular video site in the world (YouTube), a suite of office applications (Google Docs) and now a top end photo editing and sharing platform (PicNic), is this simply too much for the average internet user?

Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Communications Group NBT
NetNames is a part of Group NBT Limited