Why Google Chrome is Dominant
Chances are, unless you are using Apple, you are probably using Google Chrome as your main browser. Even some Apple users are using Chrome as their primary browser. The goal of this article is to share my thoughts on the rise of Google Chrome and how it is very unlikely that anyone will be able to dethrone the king. I would like to talk about how Chrome became the most popular web browser and its competition. I would also like to share a website that shows the market share for each of the major browsers. I use this website a lot to see trends over the years to understand how things have changed and see why some browsers have gone up and down over the years.
Web Browser Market Share
There is a website used to keep track of not only web browsers, but also operating systems, cell phones, and other devices. This website is called Statscounter Global Stats and it has a lot of interesting historical archival data. As you can see, Google Chrome currently has captured about 65% of the market share on web browsers. That means for about every three web browsers used, two of them are Chrome. That is a pretty astounding number. The number two spot goes to Apple Safari, which is only at 20%. Combined, the number one and spot browsers add up to about 85%. This leaves 15% for the remaining browsers and the other two major ones that I have used before over the years are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
The Failure of Microsoft Internet Explorer/Edge
Back then, Microsoft Internet Explorer was the dominant browser before there was any major competition. When it was only Windows versus Mac, Windows had IE and Mac had Safari. Since each web browser was home to their respective operating system (OS), the market share was pretty much dependent on which OS was most popular. I am going even further back before the Internet. The days of Windows 3.1 and 95. I mentioned them because Windows was once the dominant OS and therefore their accompanying browser that would eventually come out would be dominant also. Once the Internet hit, other browsers joined the fray, which led to the once popular Mozilla Firefox. I remember Firefox, it was popular and replaced Internet Explorer because of IE’s proprietary web page rendering. This meant that IE would render web pages differently than the other browsers, quite causing issues for many of those who built web pages. I will discuss the issue with IE’s browser compatibility.
Internet Explorer Browser Compatibility
Creating pages for IE when it was still relevant. That was a fun time. Everyone wanted to ditch IE and just support FireFox. Why? Due to how IE would render web pages differently than other browsers, it became a nightmare in some cases to create that pixel perfect look in IE. There was special CSS code that had to be used to get IE to look the same as FireFox. In many cases, some people would use CSS files that were targeted for IE 6, 7 and 8. This created a lot of extra work just for supporting IE. Since many people just used the default web browser IE for Windows, web pages had to support IE. Many do not see the point in installing FireFox when IE is good enough. So developers wanted to move away from IE to FireFox but could not because of how dominant IE was as the default browser on Windows. This is why I mentioned earlier that even though IE’s proprietary method of web page rendering was a hassle to deal with, developers had no choice because it had too many users to support. Once Chrome came out, it was a battle between Chrome and FireFox. This caused IE to lose its dominance. Then the issue of having to deal with IE browser compatibility kind of resolved itself. I want to move on to the next topic of FireFox and what happened to it when Google Chrome came out. At this time, FireFox eventually became IE but at least FireFox did not have the browser compatibility issues that IE had.
Mozilla FireFox Was Nothing Special After Google Chrome Came Out
FireFox was a very good browser when it first came out. Finally, there was no longer a need to support IE because IE’s dominance started to slip. The only thing about FireFox is that Mozilla was really known for one product, their web browser and nothing else. There was nothing else really that made Mozilla stand out. So FireFox had a period of time where it has chipped away dominance from FireFox. The only other product Mozilla has is their email client, Thunderbird. That is just a free email client that does not have any direct relationship with their web browser, FireFox. IE was dominant during its day because it was automatically installed and used and the default browser on Windows. Since FireFox had to be installed onto Windows or Mac OS to be used, many people saw no need for two web browsers. I know that I already mentioned this before but I am saying it again for a simple reason. That reason is that an operating system and web browser are directly related to each other. A web browser can be installed onto an operating system. However, there is no direct relationship between an email client and web browser. So you can use FireFox without Thunderbird. However you cannot use Internet Explorer without Windows. So Mozilla had no advantage of having both FireFox and Thunderbird because it is the operating system that allows various programs to be installed on it. So Microsoft could control IE with Windows.
Once Google Chrome came out, the battle between it and FireFox started. If I remember correctly, it did take awhile for Chrome to eat into FireFox. When Google Chrome first came out, Android did not exist yet and today’s cell phones had not hit the scene yet. At this point, Google had its web browser Chrome and search engine Google. During this time, I think that the Google search engine was getting pretty popular. The other search engine that was hanging on was Yahoo!. I used this search engine a little bit but I remember when Google became popular, Yahoo! Fell through the wayside. There was something about the Google search engine that would set something up great in the future. We saw what happened later when Android came out, Google’s mobile operating system.
Chrome Came Out at the Right Time
Back to when Chrome had just come and FireFox was leading the browser wars. At this time, Google was able to leverage their search engine to promote their web browser Chrome. Since the Google search engine was quickly gaining popularity when it came out, Google could promote their new browser easily. Unfortunately for FireFox, Mozilla had no search engine or anything as popular to compete with. Mozilla just had a web browser. FireFox was still very good while it was in first place, but Google just got stronger and stronger. When phones came out, Android could be used to promote Chrome even more, leaving FireFox in the dust. However, when the phone wars started, FireFox had already lost a lot of lead. Now we had Mozilla with just a browser, to go up against Google, with a search engine, a web browser, and a mobile operating system. This was just way too overwhelming for Mozilla to handle. FireFox had become just a memory, just like Internet Explorer.
Android vs iOS: Chrome is Still Popular on Mobile
On the mobile scene, it has been Android versus iOS. Google always had the search engine, the browser and not the operating system. With the trend over the past years of moving from desktop to mobile. Not to say that Windows is going anywhere anytime soon. Windows still has a part in desktop and laptop systems. Chrome books are just too simple to be actual laptops. The Android operating system is just for light tasks that can be done on small devices. However, for heavier stuff Windows will still be needed. Even though we can do so much with our phones, there are still some things that require the power of a real computer. Now, I want to shift over to why Google is still dominating over Apple when it comes to at least web browsers. The thing about Android versus iOS is that Apple has always been seen as a premium product. You pay top dollar for a really good high-end solid device. Apple likes to keep their phone manufacturing to themselves. This is the opposite of what Android stands for, the open-source community. I would like to talk about how open-source gave Google an advantage over Apple when it comes to being the king of web browsers.
Making Android open-source means that it is available to modify and be used to create products that are not proprietary to Google. So many kinds of Android devices could be created without Google’s thumb on you. This meant that both low-end budget and high-end premium devices were available to consumers. Not everyone can afford Apple’s premium phones. When the iPhone first came out, there were no variations available for purchase. So people had no choice but to just buy the one version that was out in the early iPhone days. As the battle wore on between Android and iPhone, Apple decided to release various versions of each generation of their phone. Now we have quite the variety available. Android all along has very cheap phones for those who just wanted something to use. This is why the open-source project was so important to Google. The reason why is that Android could easily be distributed on the onset, which allowed many Android phones to be released, giving consumers such a wide variety of options. This was key in making Android very popular during the phone wars.
Chrome Browser Extensions
Viewing Source vs. Inspecting Elements
I want to discuss how much Chrome made it easy for web development when it came to their developer tools. Before, I had to view the entire web page source and try to make HTML elements with the source. This was a painstaking task and it was not always clear and evident which HTML elements mapped with what source code. So I had to scan through the source carefully and identify the elements. Later on, Chrome had the ability to inspect elements and show me what HTML and CSS was being used with what element on the web page. This was a game changer and made my life so much easier. I now had the ability to not only know what elements map tngo what HTML and CSS, but I could change the code in the browser without affecting the actual website. So I could make style changes (CSS) and see how they look before applying them to the website. This made Google Chrome really really good.
The Most Popular Browser Becomes Even More Popular
We all know that everyone loves jumping on the bandwagon. Well, I know that phrase is like saying the blind are leading the blind, but let us think about this for a moment. Chrome had become so popular that everyone wanted to use Chrome. Just the support alone with all the browser extensions make sense for anyone to use Chrome. Choosing the most popular browser is easy for most people because it takes out the thinking required trying to figure out which one is the best one. Most people just want to use what other people are using because it becomes easy to ask someone if they have a question about it. If more people are using Chrome, then you will most likely get support for your question about something like FireFox or Internet Explorer/Edge. Strength in numbers basically. Plus, I just mentioned Chrome browser extensions and there will be more available if you go with a browser that has more people on it. Anything with a lot of people propping it up will last longer. However, something that only has but a few people left will struggle to stay afloat. The last remaining survivors will jump ship and most likely look for life preservers from something that has more people.
I really enjoyed telling you about my experience with the various browsers over the years and how Chrome came into prominence. Unlike its competition, once Google arrived, it established such a strong foundation that made it very hard to dethrone. As mentioned earlier, Google had the search engine, the browser and the operating system. Google used those assets very well to its advantage to not only surpass the competition, but take its seat on the throne to be the number one browser now and maybe forever.