Anyone thinking that the Labor Day weekend is a traditional quiet period for IT news had a rude awakening after Google announced the imminent launch of its Chrome browser.
Full marks to Mozilla CEO John Lilly who reacted to the news by posting quickly on his own blog (and full marks there - many companies seem to want to spend several days pondering over moves by competitors) . Lilly, who has overnight seen Mozilla's unchallenged position as the leading non-Microsoft alternative disappear. Of course, that's not to say that the rationale for using Firefox has vanished - it's still the slickest browser out there and Chrome will have to be on top of its game to meet this challenge.
However, Google is in the prime position to do this. As Lilly points out, "It should come as no real surprise that Google has done something here — their business is the web, and they’ve got clear opinions on how things should be, and smart people thinking about how to make things better."
There will be a lot of people joining the scramble to grab the first look at Chrome, as the comic book introduction has already whetted a lot of appetites. What's encouraging about Google's description is the way that the new browser is going to mirror the way that people actually use the web and not be a tool that adheres to the way that vendors would like surfers to use the web. Who knows whether Chrome will fulfil that promise (and my guess is that it will), the point is that there's going to be new kid on the block - and one with some clout.
And for a personal point of view, it might also give some lazy web designers a kick up the arse. There are still far too many sites that only work with IE (my bank and my mobile phone vendor to name just two), oddities in a world that's moving to be more open. Those lazy designers feel that they can ignore the likes of Mozilla, Opera and Safari but might find it just that bit harder to give Google the cold shoulder. Things have certainly got more interesting.