Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) has a problem. Chrome isn't as reliable as I thought it was.
Two years ago, I swore off Mozilla's Firefox because Chrome performed better. "The new edition of Chrome for the Mac is not only faster than my edition of Firefox, but it needed no plug-ins to handle my tricked-out versions of Gmail and Google Calendar," I wrote at the time.
And all was well until about three months ago. Chrome started crashing intermittently as its Flash plugin failed. Then "intermittently" became "daily." Only a full restart of my Mac would cure the issue.
Over the weekend I switched off Chrome's ability to load Flash. My system hasn't crashed since.
An unhappy chorus
My fellow Mac users will undoubtedly chime in here that the late Steve Jobs warned about the dangers of Flash, leading to a very public battle between Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE ) that ended with having the Mac maker join Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and Google in backing HTML5-compatible formats for video playback, such as the H.264 file format.
When I posted details of my problem to Facebook, some friends and colleagues responded that they, too, had experienced trouble using Chrome and Flash.
Elsewhere, News.com recently reported that Chrome was crashing some MacBooks. Apple's software for enabling graphics acceleration may have also contributed to the problem. Google, for its part, is working on a fix and a stronger "sandbox" for containing how Flash executes code. The latter, so far only available to Windows users, should make it more difficult for digital miscreants to target Flash.
On the rise anyway
Despite these issues, the latest data from StatCounter says that all versions of Chrome now serve 33.8% of the browser market. That's up from 32.8% in June and 22.1% last July, USA Today reports. Microsoft's Internet Explorer ranks a close second with 32%, but Firefox lags at 23.7%.
My guess is we'll see more data like this now that Chrome for iOS is available. I use it on my aging iPhone 3GS and am finding it to be much faster than Apple's built-in Safari browser or Yahoo!'s Axis, which I tried in May. Synchronicity with my desktop bookmarks also makes it an attractive choice as a gateway to the Web while on the road.
Socially aware profits
Will Facebook create a browser to ramp up its competition with Google? That's a bigger question for another day. All we know right now is the social network has failed to become the multibagger in the making IPO investors were hoping for. But this stock story is also in the early stages. Will you follow along? Our new premium research service can help. Sign up now, and you'll get a detailed report on Facebook's opportunities and major risks in the years ahead, plus quarterly updates. If Facebook's not your cup of tea, we also have you covered with a premium report on Apple. Claim your copy now.