Opera 10.5 Alpha may have just become the first web browser to perform faster than Chrome, but it now looks like Google is ready to bring out its biggest weapon of all as it wages war on rivals.
The Web giant is placing ads on its Google search homepages around the world (including .com) promoting Chrome under the tagline: “A faster way to browse the web”. It also includes a direct link to download the browser.
Why is this so significant? Firstly it is a major break in protocol for Google since it has famously kept its search homepage(s) as minimalistic as possible. Secondly, Google.com is the most visited page on the Internet meaning Chrome is now actively being pushed to an unparalleled audience.
The really ingenious part? Google indentifies the browser visiting the page before deciding whether to show the ad or not and it isn’t as simple as Chrome = no ad, everything else = ad. The first part of this sentence is true, Chrome users don’t get an ad while Internet Explorer users do. By contrast Firefox users only get more subtle link to a ‘Google Pack’ of which Chrome is a part of software bundle. This is most likely because Firefox is a major Google business partner. Opera? Safari? I don’t know, I don’t use them so let us know.
Should you be happy in your browser choice (with IE? Really?) then the Chrome ad can be closed and won’t reappear in future. Either way, however, Google ultimately wins since Chrome brand awareness increases and this will undoubtedly help recognition of the similarly named Chrome OS when it eventually rolls out later next year.
So where is Chrome market share at present? It is just inched past Safari at 4.4 per cent and has been available on the PC for just over a year. This puts it roughly inline with the annual gains made by Firefox, which is at 24.7 per cent after five years. IE still leads the way with 63.6 per cent, though the finalised Windows browser ballot screen could change all that.
If you are considering switching to Chrome then jump on in, the water’s warm – I just migrated myself. One big tip though: go for the beta version (4.x) , it’s solid as a rock, eliminates the Facebook glitches in the ‘stable’ 3.x edition, is faster and – vitally – supports third party extensions.