Friday, September 05, 2008

Will Google Chrome paint Microsoft into a corner?

Google recently announced their Chrome browser. They released a beta version that lacks many of the planned features, but they claim that it is more stable and secure than the competition, and explain why that is so in this neat comic book presentation.

They also say JavaScript programs run very fast when using Chrome. Chrome trounces other browsers when running benchmarks that Google designed. In some other benchmarks, it is still faster than Firefox and much faster than Internet Explorer.

When does JavaScript speed matter? We discuss dynamic Web applications, in which programs are downloaded to the client when the user visits a Web site. Those programs are typically written in JavaScript, so they will run much faster on Chrome than Internet Explorer.

Google is betting on network applications, and speed is critical if their networked word processor, spreadsheet, and other programs are to compete with Microsoft Office. A networked word processor or spreadsheet program has advantages over a stand-alone program like Word or Excel, but also has disadvantages, one of which is being slow. If Google Docs runs a lot faster with Chrome than current browsers, it will appeal to more people, and perhaps eat into Microsoft's very profitable Office sales.

If Chrome is a lot faster than Internet Explorer, customers will adopt it. But, ironically, if Microsoft counters by improving the speed of Internet Explorer, they will hurt Office sales.

Microsoft Office is sold by their Business Division, where fiscal 2008 consumer revenue dipped 2 percent, or $80 million. Microsoft analyst Joe Wilcox thinks this is the start of a "gradual, but later rapid decline." Faster browsers will accelerate the decline.

As communication technology improves, will Google's network application strategy gain or lose advantage over stand-alone software? How about improvement in storage technology? How about improvement in electronic technology?