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Google Chrome heading to iPhone, analysts predict

May 15, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez

Google Chrome is coming to the iPhone, or at least that's what one group of analysts say.

Macquarie Equities Research on Tuesday sent out an email titled "The Browser Wars Part Deux; Google Chrome Browser for iOS is Coming," saying Google's browser, known for its simplicity and quickness, is coming to Apple's iOS for the iPhone. 

Chrome could arrive on the iPhone as early as this quarter or "very likely" this year, the group said. Tom White, one of the analysts, said there's reason to believe Google is developing the app and may have already even submitted it to Apple for approval for its App Store.

Macquarie said Chrome's move to the iPhone would launch the latest chapter of the so-called browser wars, this time shifting the battlefield to mobile -- which people are using more often to access the Web.

Customers don't pay to use browsers, but companies do make money from them. Google and other search engines pay browser companies a percentage of revenue gained from search queries made through browser search bars, which you typically find on the top right corner of browsers.

So for example, if someone searches for "golf clubs," using the Safari browser's search bar and then clicks on an advertised link for "golf clubs," Google has to pay Apple part of the revenue made in that instance.

The same is true of mobile devices, and White said Macquarie believes Google currently pays 50% to 60% of revenue made from searches on the mobile version of Safari.

That could be a lot of money Google has to share with its rival, and if Apple were to ever dump Google for Bing, that would be a lot of lost money.

Therefore, White said Google will make the preemptive step to move users from Safari to Chrome and keep more of that search revenue.

The search giant applied the same kind of strategy four years ago when it launched Chrome for the Web.

Back then, Google would pay Microsoft and Mozilla a cut of search revenue for placement on their browsers. Four years later, Chrome is the most used browser on desktops, according to w3schools.com, meaning Google gets to keep all the search revenue from the most popular browser. 

Now, Google would like to replicate that success on the mobile platform.

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