Sony's Birthday Gift to Google

Can forgotten Vaios help spread Chrome around the globe?

Google is celebrating a birthday, of sorts, today.

It was a year ago today that the Mountain View-based company, most well-known for its dominating search engine that has become a verb, introduced Web browser Chrome.

Since then, Chrome has struggled to make a dent in the browser market -- taking less than 3 percent of the pie in browser usage.

But Sony is giving Google a birthday present, installing Chrome as the primary browser on Vaio-brand computers sold in the United States and Europe.

The Sony machines will continue to provide Microsoft's Internet Explorer -- still the world's most widely used Web browser -- allowing users to have a choice between the two. But many users stick with the browser that is set as the default, meaning they are likely to experience Chrome as their primary -- perhaps only -- gateway to the Web.

That stat proved true for Microsoft, which became the giant that is by loading Explorer on PCs when they first started becoming must-haves for families around the world. Explorer is the most widely used Web browser in the world, with roughly two-thirds of all Web usage; the No. 2, Mozilla's Firefox, is gaining in popularity but still accounts for less than a quarter of Web usage, according to Net Applications, a researcher which tracks browser statistics.

Sony is the first PC maker to sell computers with Chrome installed. Sony said Wednesday that it has been doing so on Vaio computers in the U.S. and Europe since May.

Sony doesn't disclose a breakdown of sales figures, but said that it expects to sell 6.2 million PCs globally in the fiscal year through March 2010.

Even with the Sony boost, Google's Chrome will likely still be struggling to get ahead in the browser business. PC makers Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo, and Apple still outrank Sony when it comes to shipments in the U.S. and world.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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