According to some, Google’s new browser, Chrome, is not only a threat to Internet Explorer and Firefox, but also a threat to operating systems; including, of course, Microsoft Windows.

But what do the numbers say thus far?

If the early figures are any indication, people like Michael Arrington and Henry Blodget should have set their sights a little lower. Opera would have been a good start.

According to Net Applications, a provider of website tools, 0.77% of the visits to the 40,000 sites it tracks came through Chrome, down from 0.85% the week prior.

While declines over such a short time frame are of questionable importance, it’s quite clear that Chrome hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm and Net Applications’ Vince Vizzaccaro noted that there’s a “slight” but definite “downward angle” in usage as individuals who were just giving Chrome a test drive go back to their original browser of choice.

Computerworld, which reported on the Net Applications data, has seen a similar decrease amongst its visitors and I have too at The Drama 2.0 Show.

I certainly wouldn’t count Chrome out of the “browser wars” (if such a war even truly exists) but in my opinion, the numbers thus far are hardly surprising when one considers reality.

F
or all of the hype, Chrome has no non-negligible competitive edge over Internet Explorer and Firefox as far as mainstream consumers are concerned.

While the way Google built Chrome may be interesting and Google Gears may excite application developers, these things are realistically of little importance (and even meaning) to the average consumer.

Compatibility, reliability, security and privacy are, however.

That means that for all those who see Chrome as an Internet Explorer or even Windows killer, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any blood shed anytime soon.

Let’s put things in perspective: Firefox is generally seen as having around 20% marketshare. Chrome currently has less than 1/20th of that by most accounts.

For Chrome to gain a strong enough position to even have a chance at being developed into a viable Internet Explorer competitor and a “browser OS” (whatever that means), it would logically need to surpass Firefox’s market share.

After all, there aren’t a whole lot of observers calling Firefox an operating system despite the fact that it has a fifth of the market – a very respectable figure.

Now that Chrome’s “launch bounce” has been eliminated and the shine has largely worn off, it’s hard to see Google doing anything that will rapidly increase Chrome’s marketshare by twenty times just to catch up with Firefox in the intermediate-term.

Even if Google pays OEMs to bundle Chrome with new computers, it seems unlikely that the average consumers will have a compelling enough reason to use it over Internet Explorer (or Firefox).

Internet Explorer is, of course, included with every copy of Windows and is the browser average consumers are most familiar with.

Google’s challenge is clear – will it be proactive in improving Chrome and marketing it? Or will it demonstrate that it thought Chrome would simply gain a strong foothold in the market on the back of the Google brand and let it languish?

This should be interesting to watch and I’ll go so far as to state that, given the hoopla (much of which was the direct result of hype sparked by Google itself), if Chrome ends up being yet another Google product that doesn’t exactly fail but clearly doesn’t succeed either, a lot will be revealed about the state of the company and perhaps even its future.