The announcement of Chrome from Google is a significant step in the battle for control of the desktop. As the browser increasingly becomes the interface to our digital lives Chrome challenges the pervasity of Microsoft as the brand that we associate with computing.
Early reports on Chrome suggest few surprises and a highly obvious convergence of address and search bar functionality which integrates consumer intent and history. In turn this data set enriches the data Google sees and holds and by inference increases the capacity of Google’s machine learning and the power of AdSense and AdWords.
The net result of this integration, if combined with rapid adoption of Chrome, will be a requirement for Google to apply this data with care from the perspective of both consumer and advertiser. In the last few days alone a couple of questions have arisen over Google’s business practices. The first by the respected John Battelle (supported by data from Comscore) concerns the way Google AdPlanner ascribes audiences to web sites that implies better performance from the sites in their ad network than for those sites that are not. The second comes from search marketer Entelligence in South Africa which has filed ‘an abuse of dominance’ case against Google alleging that Google manipulated the pricing for an Entelligence client while pursuing a direct relationship with that client in order to disintermediate the agency.
This latter behavior, if proved, would tend to challenge assertion that it wishes to prosecute positive partnerships with agencies and would infer a tendency to behave in a monopolistic fashion. If Mr Battelle’s assertions are also borne out the consequences could be greater skill.
This is a tricky path for Google. Superman’s dad was keen to tell the young fellow that super powers should be used with discretion. Google may not have that benign guidance and needs (for all our sakes) to avoid the possibility of becoming a regulated monopoly which would slow down its own development and that of the market as a whole.