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Can Google's Chrome affect Domainers?

Derek Iwasiuk
September 09, 2008

The beta version of Google’s Chrome web browser has been recently released and is available for downloading.  But let's see in what way the new browser could influence the domain industry.

Everything that people see or do on the web is possible thanks to a handful of software programs. The "official" browsers of the two operating systems are Internet Explorer running on Windows and Safari on Mac. Only minority of users download free alternatives such as Mozilla's Firefox and the Norwegian browser Opera. Roughly, it is considered that Internet Explorer holds around 80 per cent of the market, Firefox 16 per cent, Safari 3 per cent, and Opera less than 1 per cent.

At the present, the web browsers have a standard address bar along with a search box. This means two alternatives: type a web address in the address box or a search term in the search box. But Chrome provides a feature called “Omnibox”, which essentially combines these two functionalities into one bar. Start typing a domain name and it will suggest alternative web sites to visit. Could this shift the traffic flow and hurt direct navigation? And to what extent?

For instance, if you type in the word “pizza” into the combined bar you will have the option either to add the .com at the end and navigate to the site as usual, or to do a Google search for this word which will take you to a Google search result page, suggesting the most popular pizza sites. Obviously, with so many choices offered to the users, they are likely to choose one of the suggestions rather than complete the direct navigation, which eventually would reduce the generic type-in traffic.

Currently Firefox only suggests sites you have already visited when you start typing in a URL into the address bar. The latest version of Internet Explorer also ads a quite improved auto-suggestion feature for domain names. You start to type in a domain name and it offers dozens of suggestions based on your history record. After all, we are anticipating the release of the next vesion of Microsoft’s browser to see if there will be any other “improvements” that might take away type-in traffic.

With the open source philosophy behind Chrome, it seems that Google is striving to improve browsers in general, rather than compete with the giants of the browser world. Having that said, it will be interesting to watch out for the response of the others and how it would further affect the domain industry in general.


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