Chrome's rapid rise in the browser market has slowed. Is it all downhill from here?
Google didn't respond to a request for comment. However, the company has taken several steps that should help sustain Chrome's growth. First, there's Chromecast, the company's $35 media-streaming device for TVs, which comes with Chrome built in. Second, Web apps built to Google's standalone Chrome Apps standard contain the Chrome runtime, so anyone who uses them at least temporarily becomes a Chrome user. Third, Google's Chromebooks, which rely on Chrome OS, have been gaining traction in the low-price notebook market and among schools. Fourth, over the summer, Google made Chrome the default browser for Android version 4.3 and later and Android adoption continues to expand. Finally, Google's decision to update Chrome every six weeks or so gives Chrome a marketing advantage over Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer, which aren't updated as frequently, because of greater opportunity to gain coverage in tech news outlets. Google Trends suggests an awareness of Chrome that goes beyond what one might expect from its market share.
But for Google, the issue might not be whether Chrome can continue its growth pattern as much as whether Chrome can keep pace with what's happening in Asia's mobile market. Looking at StatCounter's mobile browser statistics, Chrome appears to have competition: The UC Browser, which is popular in China and India, has a global market share of 11.8%, compared to 4.63% for Chrome. The rumored November arrival of Apple's iPhone on China Mobile, home to some 740 million subscribers, could also complicate the situation for Google, Android and Chrome.
Now at its fifth anniversary, Chrome's ascent can no longer be assumed. There's some low-hanging fruit in the form of market share that can be taken from BlackBerry and Nokia. But after that, the climb becomes steeper.