Google Chrome needs more than hype

If Google's new Web browser is going to gain traction with the general Internet-using public, the search giant will need to do a few things differently, says Jon Oltsik.

Tech Industry

When Google announced its new Chrome browser on Tuesday there was a tremendous amount of buzz in the media, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street. But what about John Q. Public? Average Internet users couldn't care less.

Google introduced Chrome with a ton of technical mumbo-jumbo about rendering Web pages and running applications written in Ajax and JavaScript. This dialogue may put most users to sleep rather than get them to switch browsers.

So what does Google really need to do to make Chrome a success? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find a few killer applications. Whether its YouTube or some gaming application, Google needs an extremely popular Web application that runs demonstrably better in Chrome. This will attract a community of users that Google can learn from and build upon.

  2. Focus on security. The other side of running applications well is maintaining high levels of security. Firefox gained popularity when Internet Explorer was deemed insecure by many security professionals. Google should take its show on the road to the RSA Conference and Infosec Europe to gain visibility with the security in-crowd. Before choosing this road, however, Google must be ready to talk about its development process, bug tracking, and software patching in an open and honest way.

  3. Gain a few distribution partners for Android. I'm assuming that Chrome will be tightly integrated into Android. If Google can strike a deal with LG, Nokia, or Research In Motion, its mobile browser may pave the way for Chrome on the desktop.

Aside from its search engine and Web advertising muscle, a lot of Google's endeavors have been more sizzle than steak. We geeks will surely check out Chrome and may even decide to use it on a regular basis. Yup, Chrome may achieve the status of "geek chic," but without a lot of partners and shrewd marketing, it won't gain popular appeal.

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.

Click here for full coverage of the Google Chrome launch.

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