I have been looking at the Google Chrome launch closely and I have been greatly impressed. Google put together a marketing machine of biblical proportion, spending some good dollars (for example, for the long comic book, which is geekly awesome) but mostly using all the tools of the new era. Blogs, Twitter, YouTube and the like (worth a reading for marketers of the new millennium). Unbelievably effective, if you are targeting geeks.
Who else has this ability? Apple. Nobody else does it. Or gets even close to it.
I looked at the product itself and I have to say it is quite impressive. For a geek. Speed, stability and security: that's all it has. Geeks love it. Geeks will use it. Geeks will build web sites and applications for it. Geeks will look at porn sites (sorry mom) thanks to the new Incognito tab (a browser mode that allows to watch sites without leaving any trace). Geeks will spread the word. Users will come. With no major reason but a big brand and a geek telling them to do it.
That's what Apple does. They appeal to geeks first. They spread the word, become Apple Geniuses and convert the masses. Geeks were the first buyers of iPods or iPhones. The masses came later.
Nobody else does it. Nobody else has real appeal on geeks or is able to talk to geeks. Microsoft can't, and they will see their world collapse pretty fast, if they do not move quickly in that direction (but looking at how they are approaching open source, I doubt it will ever happen).
I feel we are moving away from a Microsoft-centric world to one dominated by Google and Apple. The stocks have the exact same market cap today (Apple is ahead, just a bit) but they are catching up fast on MSFT. Both are unstoppable forces, Apple from the device hardware and software side (tying it with services), Google from the services side (tying it with device software). Apple is missing some services (and revenues from advertising). Google is missing some hardware (and they will get there sooner or later).
Where is mobile open source in all this? Well, anyone doubting that Chrome is going to look fairly similar on Android, making sure applications can be moved from the PC to the mobile device? Nobody. One of the keys for this move is exactly mobile: Google is building a platform to move applications on mobile devices and make money there (as well). And is this browser open source? Of course. It is all about mobile and open source... That's were the geeks are moving.
Follow the geeks.