A lot of people seemed to be shocked that Google is advertising for their browser, Chrome. Even in the small town I live in (Spijkenisse) there is a multitude of bill boards which are promoting Google Chrome. However this is the only way to gain market share in a market in which people don’t care about your product. People use the ‘Internet-thing’ that is pre installed on their desktop and why would they switch, since the browser experience will be the same.
A friend of mine helped his mom switching to Firefox (about six years ago). He made it simple for her by putting two icons on her desktop one named ‘Proper Internet’ (launching the Firefox web browser) and the other one was named ‘Internet’ (launching Internet Explorer for sites that couldn’t be rendered properly in Firefox). He didn’t do this because his mother wanted to change, but because he loved Firefox so much. His mother did not care, she had Proper Internet and Internet en she even did not notice the difference.
It is almost like buying a new car. Most people buy a new car because they have to and some because they want to. Some of the buyers care a lot about brand others care more about color or certain functionality and others don’t care at all, as long as it helps them to go from location A to location B and it is not too expensive. Most people care in the same way about browsers and most people don’t care at all. So if you don’t tell the no-carers that there is a different browser that could enhance their experience (Chrome is all about speed), they won’t switch, since what they have is good enough (every browser they have is free, renders 98% of the websites correct, renders 100% of the websites good enough and helps them in visiting the things they want).
What is a browser?
If you want to build market share you either build a very good product and trust word of mouth marketing, however if you have plenty of cash (as Google has) you can do a bit extra and involve more traditional media such as billboards and traditional advertisting in papers. And in a world where hardly anybody knows what a browser is, word of mouth is not so effective.
I wonder how Google will solve this issue with Chrome OS, since operating systems are becoming the same kind of commodity as browsers already are. They’ll figure out, don’t you think?