Microsoft is exiting the browser engine market, and the next version of their Edge browser will be powered by Chromium; the Google-led open source web engine that powers Chrome. Ferdy Christant:
The web now runs on a single engine. There is not a single browser with a non-Chromium engine on mobile of any significance other than Safari. Which runs webkit, kind of the same engine as Chromium, which is based on webkit.
On desktop, Edge’s departure from running their own engine, means there’s only one last man standing to counter the Chromium dominance: Firefox. Which is falling from a cliff, on its way to join the “everybody else” gang of insignificant browsers. With no serious way to truly counter it due to their near-absence on mobile, and their lack of control in pushing browser installs.
So Chromium it is. If you’re now waiting for a message of hope or a happy ending, I have none.
Go read the whole piece, because it’s a terrific overview of the current browser wars (if you can even still call it that) and the future of the open web.
I personally don’t like using Chrome, but I’m also on MacOS where Chrome isn’t what I would call the best example of a Mac app. Still, with around 70% market share and the nearest competitor only holding about 10%, Chrome doesn’t have to woo me to win.
And this is the crux of the issue. With Microsoft’s exit, Apple is the only company left with both the money and browser engine to push back against Google’s dominance. But as Mr. Christant points out, Safari’s market share is largely due to the popularity of iOS, and the browser often lags behind the others when it comes to updates. Apple seems content with where Safari’s at, because they don’t face any browser engine competition on iOS where all browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) have to use the WebKit (Safari) rendering engine.
Finally, as I wrote last year, “Google controls the searches, the ads, and the window through which a majority of us see the internet.” With Microsoft’s adoption of Chromium, Google’s influence over how a majority of the world sees the Internet will only grow.
To put it another way, consider this. Last quarter, Google’s parent company Alphabet made just under $29 billion from ad revenue. Alphabet’s advertising business is far and away where the company gets a majority its money. Now think of how this ad-driven, privacy lax company controls the world’s most popular web browser with a near monopolistic amount of market share. Given that information, I find it hard to believe that Google will forever be an objective and faithful steward of what’s best for the web, instead of what’s best for Google—especially if their advertising chips are ever threatened. Thankfully, for us and for now, it seems like Google doesn’t have too much to worry about in that regard.