Google Chrome > Internet Explorer by many measures, but now in terms of popularity too.
The grandfather of web browsers has been supplanted by a young upstart from Google according to StatCounter.
StatCounter (itself a wonderful site to use directly with learners for information reading and various project-based learning activities), shows that Chrome has now taken over the top spot as the world’s most used web browser.
What’s perhaps more interesting than this milestone (the writing’s been on the wall here for a while now) is the way the trends shift in different countries. In North America for example, Internet Explorer still leads Chrome in use, a trend furthered in Switzerland where Microsoft’s browser sees nearly 4 times the use of Google’s. Yet globally, those trends don’t hold.
Why? Browsers are consumer commodities built with different goals for different companies–usually encouraging users towards products and platforms that make their developers money. Since consumer markets are unique globally–in terms of hardware, storefronts, and even broadband access–it makes sense that browser use would also be divergent.
The Next Two Years
So considering the last two years, what might the next two look like?
1. More Chrome
Chrome isn’t making Google a ton of money–not directly anyway. The mercurial web browser is very much a brand asset for the Mountain View, California company. But it’s also a tool.
Through the web browser, Google is able to control how users access information and media. It also gives them a weapon to use against competitors like Apple, and sometimes friends/ sometimes foe like Adobe. It also serves as a development tool–and veritable shoehorn–for products like their oft-discussed Chrome Operating System which seeks to replace Windows altogether as users move from devices to the cloud. So get ready for more of it.
2. Changes In Other Browsers
This growth (reported below) trend gives Chrome competitors as much data as it does Google. One response will be convergence, where Internet Explorer will look more like Firefox will look more like Safari will look more like Chrome as they all seek to reproduce utility for end-users. But each company will have to continue to experiment to occupy a niche–converge where they have to, then stand out in some compelling way.
Android tablets and Apple iPads are both gathering momentum for an interesting collision at some point–a spectacular wreck that will no doubt include the mass of their respective web browsers. So as they converge and then diverge again in a maddening process of pioneering features, gaining market share, missing out on features, losing market share, copy features, regaining market share, the browser war will parallel the one going in in terms of operating system (Windows, Chrome OS, and Mac OSX and even hardware specification.
3. Increased Evolution
If you use Chrome, you likely rarely even visit the Google homepage anymore–you just search right from the address bar. This shows how one tool (search engine) can become the heart of another (Chrome) that itself becomes an operating system (Chrome OS) that itself supports an entire ecology of other product.
Consider too, apps–methods of digital interaction that don’t require a web browser. For apps, a browser is just another tool that can be used or ignored. As apps become more common, Google will have to again become a chameleon and blend seamlessly into every new digital–and in the case of cars, physical–product that emerges so that they continue to funnel how users access information and increase their healthy bottom line.
In the June issue of Edudemic Magazine we’ll look at takeaways for education from this milestone.