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Chrome's Tiny Market Share Dwindles as Experimenters Head Home

By Erika Morphy
Oct 7, 2008 1:44 PM PT

Google's new Web browser, Chrome, is key to the company's push to connect its myriad Web offerings and become an integrated online service provider. That said, writing it off a month after its release -- based partly on figures that show a decline in downloads -- seems more Schadenfreude than sober analysis.

Chrome's Tiny Market Share Dwindles as Experimenters Head Home

Chrome's share of the overall market peaked on Sept. 4 at 1.16 percent, according to NetApplications. By Oct. 5, that number had dropped to 0.81 percent. Taking into account day-to-day fluctuations, the usage appears to have stabilized at .7 percent after the initial surge of downloads from both Google fans who were ready to switch and the merely curious.

Snapshots of Usage

Other metrics hint at Chrome's place in the browser universe: Three weeks after its debut, nearly 2 percent of traffic to, the Web site of the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, came via Google Chrome, according to WebTrends, an analytics firm that has incorporated Google Chrome into its on-demand reports.

Chrome's appeal is based mainly on its performance; the browser able to speedily process a request no matter how many tabs are open.

"I love its speed, its URL space as search space, its ability to render pages quickly, and it keeping my top nine most visited pages right up front and more," David Murrow, director of Allison & Partners, told LinuxInsider.

It's not perfect, though, he added. "I also notice that different Web forms -- event listings submission forms and such -- are not yet Chrome-compatible and tend to freeze up or do not work sometimes."

Chrome's Drawbacks

Chrome faces criticism on a number of scores. Even leaving aside the performance glitches -- something that can be expected in any new app -- Chrome's approach to privacy and content ownership strikes many as downright creepy.

OmniBox -- Chrome's address and search bar combo -- is said to track user keystrokes. The browser's end-user licensing agreement, or EULA, gives Google "a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and nonexclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post, or display on or through the Services."

None of this -- from the speedy performance to the Big Brother tracking -- has escaped Chrome's early adopters, said Kristin Coffin, client service officer for Grail Research, which has conducted its own survey on Chrome use during its first month of existence.

"Most users have had a good initial experience with Chrome," Coffin told LinuxInsider. "There are some things that could be improved, and many are uncomfortable with the privacy issues."

Other missing features that users would like to see in a Chrome 2.0 release, according to Grail, include more security protection, a faster autofill feature, a fix for the memory leak problems identified in the first version and the lack of a bundled product. Right now, Chrome is a standalone browser.

Also notable in the Grail report is that the number of negatives about Chrome far exceed the limited number of negatives listed about competing browsers.

Still, it is too early for most people who experimented with Chrome to decide whether they will permanently shift away from their current browser -- a state of affairs reflected in the slight drop in usage from 1.16 percent to .7 percent, Coffin said.

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