Google's (GOOG) Chrome browser is in a great position to take a greater chunk of the market share for the rest of the year. Microsoft (MSFT) made a blunder by not offering a choice of browsers for many machines running the Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Customers will now be more cognizant of these options, and this may help push for more browser choice in other settings like Apple's (AAPL) iOS devices. Microsoft's blunder, therefore, may help Google Chrome gain a stronger presence in both the PC and the mobile market, and for this reason, there should be an increase in users and revenues.
Google is currently trading around $677, up nearly 100 points since this time last month. A three-year chart shows that Google stock tends to fall further before moving back up and July and August share prices have certainly proved this. The question is whether Google will keep its price up near $700 and even neck and neck with Apple.
Microsoft does not appear to be in good shape, as it now faces up to $7 billion in fines from the European Union antitrust regulators. This is a result of Microsoft breaking its 2009 agreement to offer a choice of browsers with Windows, reducing the effects of bundling Internet Explorer with it. There were roughly 28 million European machines where this choice was not present, leading to the great potential for fines.
Microsoft's initial agreement in 2009 followed a two-year investigation and allowed Windows users to deactivate Internet Explorer and set new default browsers. One effect Microsoft's fine will have on competing browsers is that Microsoft will have to work even harder to follow the 2009 agreement, which leads to increased browser competition. Google Chrome may gain market share, and others like Opera and Mozilla Firefox may become more dominant players as well.
Aside from the fine, Microsoft may face additional sanctions over this issue. This means that competition will be increasing even more, giving Google Chrome and other major browsers a better chance to compete on Windows products.
This may also fuel the fire for a different battle, however, and it may indicate how things will develop in the future. Following the release of Google Chrome on Apple's iOS, users became much more aware of a problem. Unlike with Android devices, users cannot switch the default browser on iOS devices, so Apple's Safari will always be the default browser. Google is already showing developers how to get around this, and there are other available options as well. In the end, however, I would be surprised if things here do not head down the same path that Microsoft is on. This fine shows that there is still concern about a lack of browser choice, and I believe that iOS products will also have to offer this choice someday.
Macs have been becoming increasingly popular, taking more market share away from PCs, so some may initially think that the Microsoft situation is not as important as it used to be. This is bad news for PC companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL), although PCs continued to outsell Macs by roughly a 20-to-1 ratio. The poor situation of these companies remains clear with revenue growth of -2.97% from Hewlett-Packard and -3.96% from Dell. Although they are trading around the low prices of $19 and $12 respectively, therefore, I would not recommend either of these stocks.
The higher Mac sales is only one portion of the recent findings though, as the real advantage for Apple in terms of sales comes from its various iOS devices. This battle on the mobile market may be even more important, therefore, although there is nothing too significant happening in this sector as of right now.
Chrome already has 1.4% of the iOS browser market, while Safari enjoys 86.1% of the market. As made clear by the huge gap between them, this is not all due to personal preference, so I think the default browser issue will be a major factor for Google if it wishes to take a large portion of the mobile browser market. Of course, one still must consider that Google only holds 10.3% of the third-party browser market on iOS devices. I think much of this can be understood by how new the browser is, however, and I think this is actually a fairly good number when considering the newness of Chrome for iOS.
Certainly, the Microsoft situation will not immediately lead to concerns about the same issue for iOS, but it will cause people to act more quickly on the situation, as this does give a good indication of what is coming. While the direct result will lead the Google Chrome browser to be more available to PC users, the larger result may be that it will be more available on iOS devices. With PC sales weakening, furthermore, this may be the more important result, and I think Google Chrome will become an even bigger browser.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Business relationship disclosure: This article was written by a team member of Freedonia Freelance/Freedonia University.