Three years ago, Google shook up the browser world by announcing Chrome. Since then, it has gone on to redefine what we expect from a modern web browser. Even if you are not a Chrome user, you are probably reaping the benefits of the innovations introduced by Google. Almost all browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari, have adopted the minimalistic appearance introduced by Chrome.
Chrome, which started off as a bare-bones browser, has added a significant number of features to its repertoire over the past few years. However, the new features have come at a cost. As pointed out by Shankland, it has gone from being approximately 9 MB in version 1.0 to more than 26 MB in version 10.0.
Google Chrome Installer Size (Chart by Shankland)
Chrome is currently smaller than Safari, which is a 34 MB download, but is doing a lot worse than Firefox and Opera. Firefox 4 is a 12 MB download, while Opera 11.10 Beta measures in at just 9 MB.
The increase in broadband penetration around the world means that download size is less of an issue than it was three years back. However, it’s still an issue. Opera recently changed its installer, and stopped bundling Unite extensions to reduce the download size. The chief disadvantages of having a large binary size pointed out by Chrome Developer Ian Fette are:
1. We do distribution deals with Chrome, where we bundle Chrome with other products. These get difficult when our binary grows.
2. We see increased download failures / install dropoffs as the binary grows, especially in countries with poor bandwidth like India. India also happens to be a very good market for Chrome (we have good market share there and growing), so that’s also very problematic.
One way to tackle the problem of failed installations would be to provide an offline installer, instead of the web-installer that Google currently serves by default. The other way is, of course, to reduce the download size. Google has decided to take the second route. It has launched a new task force that will aggressively look at options to reduce the installation size. While the Windows edition of Chrome is the primary focus of attention, Chrome for other platforms should also benefit from this move.
It would be irresponsible to dub Chrome as a bloat. Nevertheless, it’s true that the installer is larger than I would have preferred. It’s heartening to see that Google jumping in before the ballooning binary size became a serious issue. What is your thought on Chrome? Has it become too bloated? Don’t forget to let us know.