Google eyes Chrome browser for iOS

Google is reportedly coding an iOS-specific version of its Chrome browser for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

According to analysts at Macquarie Equities Research, Chrome on iOS would be mutually beneficial for both Mountain View and Cupertino. Indeed, the browser could significantly reduce the amount of money Mountain View pays to Apple for the use of Google searches in Safari.

However, as GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel points out, the odd of a third-party browser becoming a major success on iOS are limited at best. To be sure, although Apple allows third-party browser, none of them can be set as the default browser. 

Essentially, this means all links – whether email, texts or apps – will open automatically in Safari.

Clearly, this will offer Safari a competitive advantage in iOS, no matter how popular Google’s Chrome eventually becomes on Apple’s operating system. 

Nevertheless, despite the above-mentioned limitations, Macquarie believe Chrome for iOS will be approved this quarter.

Of course, limitations on third-party browsers are nothing new in the hyper-competitive software ecosystem – with the battle extending from the traditional desktop space to the lucrative mobile market. 

Indeed, Microsoft recently come under heavy fire from Mozilla for allegedly blocking third-party browsers from operating in Windows 8 (RT-ARM) Classic mode.

“In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed,” Mozilla General Counsel Harvey Anderson wrote in a recent blog post.

“Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can’t do the same. By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform. This matters for users of today’s tablets and tomorrow’s PCs.”

According to Anderson, the prospect that the next generation of Windows on ARM devices would limit users to one browser is Classic mode (but not Metro) is “untenable” and represents a first step toward a new platform lock-in.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We encourage Microsoft to remain firm on its user choice principles and reject the temptation to pursue a closed path. The world doesn’t need another closed proprietary environment and Microsoft has the chance to be so much more,” he added.