There is a perception that Google’s Chrome is a rounding error when it comes to browsers. And maybe it still is, but Google is now fighting that perception in a very public way. Today, it announced that the Chrome Team won a Founder’s Award for their achievements so far, and
for the first time revealed how many people are using the Chrome browser: 30 million active users. Update: I guess I jumped the gun here. Google has been using that 30 million active user number since July.
Now, 30 million is certainly a big number, but it is still a tiny fraction of Internet Explorer or Firefox (which has 330 million users). NetApplications shows Chrome with only a 3.58 percent market share at the end of October, compared to 24 percent for Firefox and 65 percent for IE. But remember, Chrome only launched a year ago, so that is a fast ramp by any standard.
Nevertheless, Google is signaling with this award (which was previously won by the teams which created Gmail, Google Maps, and AdSense) and this figure that it is dead serious about Chrome. A few weeks ago, at a press conference I attended, CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about how Chrome was doing. Here’s an excerpt from that part of the Q&A:
Q: You keep adding to Chrome and nobody seems to be paying attention. If that is one of the places where the battle is fought you seem pretty far behind.
Sergey: Perhaps that is true in media . . .
Schmidt: let me, some of your assumptions about Chrome adoption are wrong. The adoption rate of Chrome is [very strong]. We are going to do a better job of getting that message out.
Schonfeld: Steve Ballmer calls it a rounding error, is it?
Schmidt: I don’t respond to Steve Ballmer questions. Next question?
The messaging has begun. Google generally doesn’t reveal user numbers for anything, so this is significant. And now it sets a precedent for Google to update the number in the future. Will it grow, and how fast?