September 2, 2008

Privacy Tarnishes Google Chrome

By David Morrill

Internet search engine giant Google added a new twist to its arsenal Tuesday with the launch of its first Web browser to go head- to-head with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox.

But even with its self-described "sleek" new look that helped coin its name "Chrome," some say that its too flimsy on privacy issues, which might give Google trouble competing with Firefox and future Explorer offerings that have anonymous browsing options. Currently 75 percent of Web users use Internet Explorer.

"Anonymous browsing is very much a trend that users want, but is death for Google because it collapses behavioral targeting, search relevancy and ad targeting which is based on cookies," said Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research. "Google wants cookies to monitor you."

Chrome does have a feature called "incognito mode" where files opened and downloaded won't be logged into the browser and download history. This keeps your browsing history secret from other people that might use your computer. However, "the Web sites you visit may still have records of your visit," Google states.

"Google's Chrome is a modern day spyware," Chowdhry said.

Still, privacy aside, Google hopes that some of its other features will attract users to its site. Ultimately, the hope is that by using Chrome, Google's search engine will garner more traffic.

Among other features, Chrome's navigation bar -- where you type in an Internet address -- will serve a dual purpose. Users can either enter an address into the space or enter a search request that will be processed through their search engine of choice.

"You only have 24 hours a day and we would like you to do more searches," Google's other co-founder, Larry Page, said at the unveiling. "If the browser runs well, then you will do more searches."

Naturally, Google bets it will be the default search engine for the majority of Chrome users, helping to build upon its nearly 64 percent share of the worldwide search market.

"I think the value proposition in Chrome for the average user will be speed and being able to use the Google applications easier," said Ray Valdes, analyst with Gartner. "When you use Google mail, Google maps, or Google docs, you will notice significantly faster speeds.

"Underneath the hood of the actual browser that users see is sophisticated technology that Google hopes will attract more users," Valdes added.

In trading Tuesday, shares of Google gained $1.96 to close at $465.25. Yahoo, a competing search site, hit a five-year low at $18.75 per share.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Staff writer David Morrill covers technology. He can be reached at 925-977-8534 or [email protected]

Originally published by David Morrill , Staff writer.

(c) 2008 Oakland Tribune. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.