By now, you've surely seen every blogger on the planet sound off on Google's new browser. There are dozens of reasons why this is an important development, and hundreds more if you speculate on ulterior motives. I'll leave you to consider the overall market impact of this new browser, but if you develop web applications, there are some specific implications that I believe we're going to see in the next 18 months or so.
First, consider how Google's introduction of Chrome differs from the birth of any other browser. After all, it's been a long time since a new browser garnered this sort of attention. Not since Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer have we seen a browser hit the market as a predestined market contender. Firefox, Opera, and Apple's Safari have built sizeable market share since their introductions, but it's happened over time.
Like the frog who's boiled because it doesn't notice the warming water, the web application development community hasn't seemed to notice that we're now developing for, and testing on quite a few browsers, and they really don't behave very consistently.
Chrome is going to be a shock to the system. I really think there's going to be a significant collective realization that we're in big trouble here. Sure, the WebKit rendering engine was already in use in Safari, but with a market share that started at zip and grew slowly, I know plenty of people who just ignored it. But now, we've got IE in at least three major releases (6, 7, 8), FireFox in two major releases, Safari, and Chrome.
Something's going to have to change.
When we first started building web applications, we did so in part because it was a whole lot easier to deploy applications when we didn't have to worry about installing on individual workstations. Why didn't we want to deploy to all those workstations? Because they were all different from one another, and you couldn't count on them all to behave the same.
Hey - is it getting warm in here?
By the way, be sure to check out this great comic about Chrome - it says volumes.