Has Google Chrome Lost Its Shine?
I have been publicly critical of Google for bringing Google Checkout to market with an over-abundance of publicity, but no marketing plan to sustain the hype through adoption. At the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon or worst yet, an anti-Googleist, I have to say, Google did it again. As a hopeless advocate of strategic marketing, I am left still scratching my head.
When Chrome launched, I was eager to see how the market would react, especially for those end-users who are not interested enough to read all 38 pages of the released Google Chrome comic. I decided to conduct my own independent analysis to see how the market was reacting. I reviewed a range of major internet marketing website analytics and analyzed browser usage for the last two months to determine the population of site visitors using the new browser.
The results we saw seemed to align with the observations of other industry pundits and were far from confidence inspiring. Google Chrome's initial acceptance was impressive but numbers tailed off quickly. Google Chrome was able to obtain just over 1% of visitor browser usage within the 8-week period since its launch.
- From its peak adoption to now usage is down nearly 20%
- Google Chrome's second week saw a strong bump growing 45% from week 1
- Week 3 acceptance percentage plummeted to -11%
Since the initial burst of user acceptance, Google Chrome has been on a steady market share decline, losing almost 30% of its users since its initial launch. Just the last 2 weeks alone have shown 10% weekly drops in market share. In summary, Google Chrome is churning and burning.
As marketing professionals, our question must echo countless board rooms in Googleplex: "What happened?"
First is the technical aspect. The negative reviews on Chrome began streaming in within 48 hours. The issues included: poor visual display of websites, persistent browser crashing, laptops going into hibernation mode when running Chrome, SSL client authentication...and various other bugs and kinks. While new browsers are expected to be somewhat buggy, even early adopters abandoned the browser within the first few days due to the list of technical setbacks.
So, some of the poor adoption can be attributed to users being disappointed by performance, but lets be honest, Google was barely able to make a 1% dent in the market, despite the vast power of its consumer reach, and the product itself does have some new and interesting features. I believe the real culprit of this dismal display is the lack of a strong marketing plan. I spent some time digging across an array of varying websites to evaluate where Google missed major opportunities to target other demographics. My analysis showed that Google failed to gain acceptance for:
- Users ages 45+
- Users in rural areas
- Users with lower education levels
These are substantial customer segment misses and display the continued struggles Google has experienced in marketing new service offerings, ranging from Google Checkout to You Tube. Google's "If we build it, they will come" attitude toward launching new products continues to hinder their ability to expand into new verticals. Essentially the only demographic to show interest were young, educated, and urban males, which is a demographic that is already web-savvy and probably needed little to no encouragement to try out the new browser.
In its attempts to diversify its business model, Google has still yet to show major promise with any of its endeavors outside of the search engine, and Google Chrome appears to be falling to the wayside as another fruitless project. For now, it appears that Microsoft's mantle as the top browser is safe and with IE 8 soon to be released, they will likely further solidify that position.
In Google's owns words from the blog entry announcing Chrome, "We hit 'send' a bit early introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome." Unfortunately for Google, they didn't know they were actually telling the truth.