This is the set of share curves for Chrome browsers. Beautifully ordered, right? Pretty much the idealized portrait of release early, release often. So how does Google do it?
From Royal Pingdom (awesome analytics, btw):
Google Chrome handles its upgrades in a completely automated fashion, even for a completely new version of the browser. While other browsers will ask the user for approval to move from version 1 to version 2 (just an example), Chrome will just handle that in the background and move ahead with the upgrade.
If you think about it, this mirrors the way web apps work, i.e. updates go through to all users so everyone is using the same version of the software.
Genius. The post focuses on the mechanics of upgrade push and the correlation between “pushy” browsers and people who love web analytics. These charts could seed a million great thoughts, but I want to focus on the idea that changing the defaults can change the game.
Check out IE’s share curve set:
I generally believe that the mark of a mature company is dominant legacy costs (real or abstract), and that’s exactly what we see here. Despite prolonged effort, MSFT hasn’t been able to get its old (brand destroying) software off of the world’s computers. IE6 is three generations and nearly a decade old, but killing it depends on every IE6 user out there independently choosing to go through the upgrade process. Who wants to take that bet? And don’t forget, many of the users running IE6 are doing so because they can’t risk an upgrade on their pirated copy of Windows (there’s another post in there about effective methods of deterring software piracy). Meanwhile, as MSFT slowly watches its past starve its present, Google chose a different default upgrading behavior for Chrome, and with that single tweak ensured that it’ll never have to deal with the legacy costs of an intractable, negative brand equity browser product.
Now that’s a strategic advantage.