Browser Wars: Will Chromium Eventually Win It All?
Chrome is easily the most popular web browser in use today. Google’s flagship internet package owns a stunning 62% of the market followed by Mozilla Firefox at just under 15%. Apple’s Safari and Microsoft Edge browsers come in at 5.3% and 3.6%, respectively.
Google’s dominance in the browser world is undeniable. But there is something: Chrome is built on the open-source Chromium project, the same project that Microsoft turned to when it rebuilt its Edge browser a couple of years ago. There are tons of other browsers-based on Chromium as well. They include:
- Iron Browser.
The list literally goes on and on. But as time progresses and web browsers come and go, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Chromium is driving how we interact with the web. It is very possible that Chromium will eventually win it all.
Life Before the Chromium Project
There was no Chromium project or Google Chrome browser prior to 2008. Before either existed, the two biggest players in web browsers were Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape, which eventually became Firefox in 2003.
Microsoft’s engine was completely separate from Netscape’s Gecko engine. Other companies looking to develop browsers either had to come up with their own engines or obtain licenses from Microsoft or Mozilla to use theirs. Google wasn’t about to do that. They wanted their own.
When Google decided to build its own browser, it launched the Chromium project as an open-source project anyone could contribute to and benefit from. At the core of that project was the Blink engine. Meanwhile, Apple stuck with its WebKit engine for the Safari browser.
Alternate Engines Are Disappearing
Exactly how many graphical engines were created for new web browsers is unclear. What we do know is that all those engines started disappearing one by one. Even Microsoft gave up its engine when it rebuilt Edge on Blink. That’s right, the new Microsoft Edge is a Chromium-based browser.
Mozilla continues with Firefox and its Gecko engine. Likewise, there are a small number of Mozilla-based browsers that use the same engine. WebKit is still used by Apple. But that’s it. All the other competing engines are gone.
Why is this significant? Because Chromium and Blink easily control upwards of 80% of all web browser activity. That number could eclipse 90% if Mozilla doesn’t get its act together. The company has been struggling financially in recent years. So much so that people are beginning to wonder how Mozilla hangs on even as Microsoft threw up the white flag and gave into Chromium.
Chromium Sets the Standard
Because Chromium is the foundation of so many web browsers, it sets the standard. Chromium’s status as king of the web browser jungle is certainly enhanced by the fact that Google is the number one contributor to its open-source code. The two things combined give Chromium a huge advantage that is hard to overcome.
As far as internet users are concerned, there is very little distinction between browsers anymore. Firefox works just as well as Chrome which works just as well as Edge and Safari. They all work equally well with Blazing Hog’s 4G rural internet, Verizon’s 5G internet, and Comcast’s wired broadband.
The browser wars have largely been a war of attrition ever since Netscape first sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Said attrition has led to fewer and fewer engines and little desire to create anything capable of competing with Chromium and Blink. So at this point, it looks like the browser wars are close to being over. Chromium looks like the eventual victor.