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Is Google Chrome still the dominant browser on the web?

Just browsing... for features

Google Chrome is testing a new feature that will make it look a little more like its Apple rival Safari: switching the browser’s address bar to the bottom, moving it closer to the thumb — great news for speed searchers seeking to fact-check their friends or find “food near me” as quickly as possible.

The move comes almost 2 years after Apple made the bottom-of-the-screen-based address bar its default, a decision that wasn’t a roaring success at the time. But, while Chrome has lagged in this change-up, the platform has been dominating the browser world for over a decade now.

First launched in 2008, when Internet Explorer was at the height of its powers, Google's PR team was keen to make a splash with Chrome — going so far as to create a comic book to explain its "streamlined" features. Marketed as a "fresh take on the browser", Chrome offered faster loading times, fewer crashes, third-party extensions and, perhaps most importantly, the resources of a tech giant.

Free real estate

Those resources also meant plugging into the Google ecosystem — Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Android — giving Chrome an enormous leg up, just as its primary competition, Internet Explorer, and the free and open-source Firefox, were struggling for users. By the end of 2009, in the first full year of its existence, Google Chrome captured just 5% of the browser market. However, things shifted quickly: Chrome became the most popular browser in 2012, a position it’s held ever since.

Since it's free to use, Chrome may not initially seem like a core part of Google's business, but it actually saves the company billions every year. When people use the Chrome search bar, the default search engine is, of course, Google itself — had Google never built a browser, it would have to split that ad revenue with someone else.

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