Sony selling Vaio PCs in US, Europe with Google Web browser Chrome installed

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sony sells PCs with Google Web browser installed

TOKYO — Sony Corp. is giving Google Inc.’s fledging Chrome browser a boost by installing it as the primary browser on Vaio-brand computers sold in the United States and Europe.

The Sony devices continue to provide Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer — 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 preset as the default, meaning they are likely to experience Chrome as their primary — perhaps only — gateway to the Web.

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

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the most widely used Web browser in the world; the distant No. 2, Mozilla’s Firefox, is gaining in popularity. Google’s Web browser launched in 2008 and commands only a sliver of the browser market.

Distribution deals such as this could help Google win over consumers who think of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company only in terms of its Web search dominance. Google has also built a smart phone operating system and is now working on a free PC system to challenge Microsoft’s Windows.

“Users’ response to Google Chrome has been outstanding, and we’re continuing to explore ways to make Chrome accessible to even more people,” Google spokesman Eitan Bencuya said in an e-mailed statement. “We are in the process of testing one such channel with Sony.”

It’s not clear how much this particular deal with Sony can help improve Google’s standing. Sony’s PC business is too small to be counted on lists by industry research groups IDC and Gartner Inc. of the top five computer makers by unit shipments.

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

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