As Google continues to dominate our access to the web, information through its search engine, and services like Gmail or YouTube, Chrome is a powerful entry point in the company’s vast toolbox. While Google championed web standards that worked across many different browsers back in the early days of Chrome, more recently its own services often ignore standards and force people to use Chrome.
While Chrome has never managed to capture 90 percent of all desktop browsing market share, it’s now the dominant way people access the internet across devices. Netmarketshare, W3Counter, and StatCounter all place Chrome at around 60 percent of desktop browsing, with Safari, Firefox, IE, and Edge all far behind with up to 14 percent market share each (depending on who you trust). Either way, Chrome now has the type of dominance that Internet Explorer once did, and we’re starting to see Google’s own apps diverge from supporting web standards much in the same way Microsoft did a decade and a half ago.
Google isn’t alone in its “works best with Chrome” approach either, as other web companies have started to reveal that their websites work best in Chrome. Groupon, Airbnb, and Seamless are all guilty of it, even prompting one Chrome team member to state “please don’t build sites for just Chrome.” It’s a useful piece of advice that Google isn’t putting into practice itself, though.
Google also controls the most popular site in the world, and it regularly uses it to push Chrome. If you visit Google.com in a non-Chrome browser you’re prompted up to three times if you’d like to download Chrome. Google has also even extended that prompt to take over the entire page at times to really push Chrome in certain regions. Microsoft has been using similar tactics to convince Windows 10 users to stick with Edge.
Microsoft might have celebrated the death of Internet Explorer 6, but if Google isn’t careful then it might just resurrect an ugly era of the internet where “works best with Chrome” is a modern nightmare.