Sony (NYSE: SNE) has agreed to put Google’s Chrome browser on new Vaio PCs in the first of what is likely to be several distribution deals that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is counting on to boost the market share of its internet browser. The FT, which first reported on the deal, says that Google is also in talks with other PC makers to pre-install Chrome on new computers. A Google spokesman tells us it’s a “test” and that the company is “continuing to explore ways to make Chrome accessible to even more people.”
While Chrome has been well regarded since its debut, its market share is paltry. The latest Net Applications’ figures show that Chrome had about 2.59 percent of the browser market in July, up from 1 percent a year ago. By contrast, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had 67.7 percent of the market—and with the debut of Internet Explorer 8 has finally managed to stop losing share.
Google has taken other steps to promote its browser in recent months, including launching a TV advertising campaign for the browser in May. However, distribution deals with PC makers would allow it to counter Internet Explorer’s built-in advantage, since Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) includes its browser with its dominant Windows operating system.
Sony has said it expects to increase Vaio PC sales from 5.8 million units in fiscal 2008 to 6.2 million units in fiscal 2010. However, the company is still a relatively small player in the PC market. Market research firm Gartner does not list it among the top five PC vendors in the world or in the United States by unit shipments.
By Joseph Tartakoff