Once upon a time, talk of brand loyalty orbited around products like detergent, deodorant, cars and Coca-cola; tangible consumer products. Now, in the Digital Age, the biggest brand wars are fought among intangibles, and Web browsers are a highly contested battleground.
A new report from StatCounter shows that the new brawler in the winner’s circle is Google Chrome, which has managed to surpass Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) as the world’s leading Web browser.
Web browser use is a highly personalized and particular experience, and a big reason why loyalty is sustained over time. Decisions are made based on computer speed and security, but people also become accustomed to particular arrangements of tabs and tools, and specialized functionality.
Browsers are always being tweaked to improve performance and ease of use, but it is done so carefully and with the loyal customer always in mind. It’s hard to say whether Google is getting more things right or that Microsoft has dropped the ball, though, because IE is still the favorite by a large margin in the US; Chrome only dominates in terms of global use demographics.
Further complicating the news is that some critics question StatCounter’s methods of data collection. ComScore, which also tracks Internet data, agrees with StatCounter’s results, however, and it is generally not debated that Chrome’s star is rising in the browser universe. What’s also clear is that love for IE is fading, which has more to do with Chrome’s leapfrogging than any sharp gains in Chrome fans.
So, what is it that makes Chrome the global go-to for browsing? One easy assumption to make is that it’s because it’s so easily associated with Google’s powerhouse search engine. Chrome naturally defaults to the Google search page, while IE defaults to Microsoft’s Bing search platform. Of course, browser users can use any search engines they want and reset the defaults, but there’s a lot to be said for convenience in the consumer world – and particularly when it comes to using the Internet.
Chrome may be the disputed champion today, but Web browser rankings are not an exact science and the winds of change blow strongly on the Information Superhighway. Microsoft is far from done with the fight, as evidenced by its data-heavy blog response that basically dragged StatCounter’s results through the mud.
The good news for users is that all this carping and competition usually results in even better-performing browsers, and so while Google may win today it is Internet users who will reap the rewards now and in the future.