Chrome: Google's Cross-Platform Platform - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
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12/9/2009
12:45 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Chrome: Google's Cross-Platform Platform

No one ought to be surprised by the notion that Chrome is Google's big cross-platform play -- a way to get their app-delivery system running everywhere. It's not just a way to soften people up for the arrival of Chrome OS, either.

No one ought to be surprised by the notion that Chrome is Google's big cross-platform play -- a way to get their app-delivery system running everywhere. It's not just a way to soften people up for the arrival of Chrome OS, either.

In fact, I could probably run out of space enumerating all of the things Google probably wants from Chrome, and who their intended markets are for each goal. For the end user, they're producing a fast, stable, safe browser -- one which many professional colleagues and close friends of mine have already adopted as their default. (I'm still a Firefox guy, personally.) For the web developer, it's a consistent way to deliver web apps -- more so than, say, Firefox, because it's soon to be launched as its own standalone OS. And for open source lovers, it's an open source project -- albeit one with some concessions to Google's corporate side. (Better something than nothing, right?)

What's remarkable is that no one of these strategies has to really take off for the others to succeed. Even if Chrome doesn't take a big bite out of the PC-level browser market, its mere presence there insures that much more competition and variety. If Chrome OS doesn't make a dent commercially, that won't affect conventional Chrome in a negative way; work on that can continue in parallel with no real loss. Ditto Chrome as open source in the abstract: it's a corporate-supported project, and the odds of such a thing surviving and thriving are far greater than a garden-variety startup project.

Google's long-term strategy, then, is a platformless platform: something that can run most anywhere, run most of what people are going to need in a given day (i.e., the Web), and expand outwards from that to create something that might even rival their existing galaxy of services. And no matter where they go, there will be something to gain.

Google can't lose. Frankly, that seems to be the way they approach everything: even if they lose, they still win by dint of having a toe in the door. Apple and Microsoft both have the same sort of audacity, although all of them exhibit it in different ways -- and Google's shaped up to be more disruptive (and not always in a good way) than either of them. Open source, for them, is just a way to make that happen -- a means to the much larger end of establishing a presence far more pervasive than the search box in the upper-right-hand corner of the browser.

Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).

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