Google Chrome … The Early Marketing Chronicles

Make no mistake… I love Google. I love the way their products just work and over the years, have come to love their marketing as well… Remember ‘the 1 GB inbox’ Gmail… it carved out a space where apparently none existed… It was a perfect flanking attack which shocked Yahoo and proved to be disruptive. Chrome was another of those launches from Google stable which like gmail competed in a significantly mature market and have a great potential to be disruptive.

While the strategic objectives for Chrome go much beyond merely gaining few % points in browser market, the marketing objectives must have been pretty clear from day 1 : Create a positive emotion around the product which would supplement the visibility garnered by the usual Google PR machinery & hence create a strong foot hold amongst the early adopters…

Tough task considering the market was very comeptitive and needed an innovative circuit breaker… Innovative was what Google chose by becoming the first company to launch a major product using a comic book… yes, I actually mean a comic book. Who does that right … well apparently, those who do get huge amount of PR, not only in mainstream web media but at places that actually matter for early adopters, those fabled geek hangouts … Round 1 to Google, Well played…

But this is old news… almost 8 months old now… the fizz from comic book is largely gone… & meanwhile the product has stablized a bit… has found acceptance amongst fanboys… is gaining new users every day because of the hard push its getting from Google’s virtual estate (try accessing google.com using IE &  get bombarded with a free Chrome ad… ditto with youtube and gmail) and Google’s real world  clout (Google has cut few OEM deals for Chrome already)… now would be the perfect time for the next phase of marketing… Marketing objectives presumably would change to expanding user base and becoming more mainstream, and probably go beyond 1.2% the browser currently commands.

& Google has tried… by shifting from comic books to videos… and essentially trying to get community to do their marketing. In theory it makes great sense – Get the beehive to create your videos…  they would almost definitely be cool and they would be free…

The end result is 12 great videos. All submitted by amateurs like us and all of them look great.

Two shining examples of seemingly great stuff. But is Chrome perfect in its marketing… is it doing all it can do. Is it this hard to go beyond 1.2% despite all the hard push its getting?

There is no doubt that Google’s execution has been beyond rapproach but they could certainly do a lot better on market positioning front … lets think a bit here, IE is ‘The ubiquitious browser’, FF is ‘The safe browser’… What is Chrome… they used to be somewhere in between ‘The fastest browser’ or ‘The simplest browser’… in last 8 months they have moved further south and are trying to become a browser that is great in everything (Right now they are ‘A new web browser’ … Really Google?? Hope you are just testing that positioning statement and would get rid of it soon)

& then they could have certainly done a better job of naming their key features… think of their choice of ‘In-cognito’ for privacy feature… Great buzz word… yes, Communicates the benefit to the end customer clearly… no

Think of what microsoft did with same feature in IE8 – ‘In Private’ … firefox folks – ‘Private Browsing’… I can bet that perceived first mover for this feature would be Microsoft not Google (& this despite the fact that Chrome debuted this feature in mainstream when people had hardly heard about Safari and IE8 betas offering privacy features) & perception is all that matters in marketing world.

Chrome needs to understand that its operating in a world where 92% of people don’t understand the meaning of word ‘browser’ … not many would understand In-cognito…

Also have a look at the first TV ad they chose to air…

Very cute… this ad was designed to emphasize the clean and uncluttered interface of the software compared to its competitors and it does that too… but only to people who already know Chrome. It has a call to action in last frame, but that effect is negated to a great extent as for a first timer Chrome can be an OS, a Kid’s Game, A browser, A decorative piece… all with equal probabilities.

Chrome has delivered master-strokes (like the comic book launch) … some of them need some refining before they can help Chrome go beyond 1.2%… its a good product and certainly deserves a double digit market share at least.

Do it Google. You have a wonderful product and a wonderful execution team. Focus your energies on one single benefit and beat the hell out of your communication. Do it right and soon you would be no 3 (or if luck is with you, no 2)…