Chrome Mission: Accomplished!

Last week, my esteemed Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz told you that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) was failing its mission with the new Chrome browser. I'm here to tell you that he's got it all wrong.

The battle report
Chrome's share of the worldwide browser market slipped from 0.85% at the launch to 0.77% a couple of weeks later. Mozilla Firefox is still the only credible threat to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Internet Explorer, and the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Safari attracts nine times Chrome's users. Rick sees this as a see-saw battle for market share, where "Google won't mind taking a small step back for a week, if it means that Microsoft takes an even bigger step back over time." And indeed, it looks as though most of Chrome's users came from the Microsoft camp, which shrank by 0.91% in just a couple of weeks.

But that's not at all what Google wants, amigo. If Chrome fizzles out and dies next week, after introducing the browsing world to just one new feature that makes the Web 1% easier to navigate, then Google won.

Wait … what?
Google makes its money when you browse the Web, plain and simple. Make the browsing experience slightly faster, easier, or less cumbersome, and you can assume that somebody, somewhere, will click on a couple of links they might otherwise pass over with a less user-friendly browsing tool.

You might not even notice if you're clicking on 1% more or 1% fewer text ads in one environment or the other, but Sergei, Larry, and Eric will out at Google HQ. If you're enjoying your browsing experience a tad more, you'll stay around a bit longer and perhaps do a little more clicking around. Although 1% may not seem a lot, small changes can make a real difference for Google's top line.

A job well done
Seen from that angle, Chrome has, I think, already proved its worth. It is a solid browser that puts a new spin on the concept of a home page. Separating each browser tab and plugin into separate system processes means that one page can fail but the rest of the browser lives on. The browser also complies with open standards such as HTML, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets better than anything from Microsoft:

Browser Platform

Acid3 Test Score (Scale: 1-100)

Internet Explorer 7

12

Firefox 3.0

71

Chrome 0.2

79

Those are the three browsers I could test on my own system, though I'm told that Firefox 3.1 scores in the upper 80s and that IE8 slingshots up to 21 or so. Chrome was clearly built with modern technologies in mind.

There's more, but that's not my point -- one noteworthy new feature would be enough. Now you can expect Firefox, IE, Safari, and all the rest to copy what's good about Chrome and ignore the rest.

Contributing to the Firefox development process is good, too, and biggies such as IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) and Google already have their fingers in that pie. But the fact that a big brute like Google stands behind Chrome is an instant boost to Chrome's profile and its impact on the browser market. Having full control over a project like that could prove invaluable.

The lesson to be learned
So your next Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) probably won't come with Chrome preinstalled. Steve Ballmer can laugh at Chrome's puny market share all he wants. And Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) won't worry about Chrome rendering its next software-as-a-service package correctly. But Google wins anyway, because the bar for future browsers has been raised, and all the company wants is a friendlier Internet. Walgreen (NYSE: WAG  ) made a fortune relocating its stores to convenient street corners. Google will do the same with convenient Web browsers.

Buy this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed innovator today, before Wall Street comes to its senses and gives Google a reasonable valuation again. This ride is not to be missed.

Further Foolishness from Rick:

Microsoft and Dell are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund loves impromptu Duels, and he does own shares in Google. He holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here, though. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure brings you 3.1 million search results in just 0.14 seconds.


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