It has been over a year since Google released the initial beta version of its Chrome Web browser software. The Chrome browser was taken out of beta, then put back into beta, and finally taken back out of beta a few months ago. Until now, though, there has not been a version of Chrome for Mac OS X users.
That is about to change...mostly. Google has set a deadline to release a Mac OS X-compatible version of the Chrome Web browser by the end of 2009. However, in order to meet that deadline it is eliminating features that are found in the current Windows version.
Absent from the initial Chrome Web browser beta for Mac will be App Mode, bookmark manager, multitouch support, 64-bit compatibility, browser extensions, and Google Gears. It leaves me to wonder what is left that would be worth beta testing.
Google Gears is one of the more compelling components of the Chrome browser. It lets you work with other Google products like Gmail and Google Docs even while offline. App Mode lets developers create standalone Web browsers customized for a single site.
The good news is that these features aren't being nixed forever. They're just not going to be a part of the initial beta. Google still plans to incorporate them into future updates leading, eventually, to taking the Mac version of Chrome out of beta.
With over a year competing against browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, Google's Chrome has managed to scratch out 3.6 percent of the Web browser market. Google has a goal to reach 5 percent market share by September of 2010, and 10 percent by 2011.
Both of those goal milestones seem reasonable, if not conservative. If Google releases Mac OS X and Linux-compatible versions of the Web browser--with all of the features enabled--it will offer a solid alternative for Firefox and Safari on platforms where Internet Explorer doesn't even compete. That should grab a few market share percentage points.
All versions of Mac OS X and Linux combined make up less than 10 percent of the operating system market, while Windows dominates with more than 90 percent. Internet Explorer is a formidable opponent as a Windows-based Web browser, but Google still has much more to gain by chipping away at Internet Explorer and competing for the Windows audience.
With Google positioned as a sort of anti-Microsoft, it seems odd that Chrome was released for Windows first and that more Google-friendly platforms like the Mac have had to wait for over a year. That is, until you consider the market.
Unless you're Apple, there is little incentive in catering to Mac OS X. But, with all that Google is developing and bringing to the table, including the Chrome operating system, it seems fair to assume that the Chrome Web browser will continue to gain market share--although more likely at the expense of Firefox and Safari than Internet Explorer.
Keep your eyes open, though, Mac OS X users. Google just has a few more bugs to eliminate before the feature-stripped beta of the Chrome Web browser will be available for download.