Why Chrome for Android Matters to Microsoft

Posted by · February 7, 2012 5:05 pm

I’ll be honest, I’m rooting for Microsoft.  I want Windows 8 and all the coinciding devices to be the comeback they need to make a play for at least the fifth spot in Eric Schmidt’s Gang of Four; and if the things I saw at CES are any indication, I think they have a good chance at climbing on top.  That being said, I cringed a little earlier today when I heard that Google launched their Chrome browser for (select) Android phones.

While Chrome for Android is still in its Beta phase and will only be coming to select phones and tablets (the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S phones, Asus Transformer Prime, Motorola Xoom and all future Android 4.0 enabled devices), the browser allows users to sync their Chrome account on the desktop with their account on mobile.  This means that by using Chrome, people will have the ability to leave their desktop, grab their mobile phone and pick up where they left off browsing the Internet. All tabs, bookmarks and eventually passwords will sync between devices.

Chrome for Android also boasts the same speed and simplicity as Chrome for desktop.  “This is not Chrome Lite.  This is the full Chrome,” Arnaud Weber, engineering manager for Chrome told the Mercury News.  In fact, running the full version of Chrome is part of the reason why Chrome for Android will only run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) enabled devices.

“(Android 4.0) devices are very powerful, but they are a lot less powerful than a desktop computer,” Weber said. “On a device like this, we just have to push the device as hard as we can go, with more reliance on the phone’s Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU, chip.”

Why This Matters To Microsoft

The biggest reason why this matters to Microsoft is that with the release of Chrome for Android (Beta), Google is inextricably linking two of its most popular products.  Android was dubbed the world’s most popular mobile operating system last year and Chrome recently overtook Mozilla Firefox to become the world’s number two browser behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.  The marriage of Chrome and Android only makes using Google’s browser and purchasing an Android-based smartphone all the more attractive; and by the time Microsoft launches their own synced Windows 8 devices, they may (once again) be too far behind the curve to catch up with Google.

The less obvious reason why Chrome for Android matters to Microsoft is when it comes to developers.  The more people using Google products, the more attractive their development platform will become to independent software developers and the less attractive developing for Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace will be.

Still, I’m hopeful that Microsoft has an ace in the hole with Windows 8.  If the folks at Microsoft are smart, they will learn from any problems that arise with Chrome for Android and make sure those same issues don’t occur with their own devices.  While you’re waiting to see just how smart Microsoft is, check out Google’s Chrome for Android Beta video and let us know if you’ve installed the browser on your Android 4.0 device.

  • Jon

    I would definitely install this if I had a Nexus. I love the idea of swipe to switch window! My only problem is that I constantly have about 30 tabs open in Chrome and I can only imagine how the phone would handle it.