Google is said to be planning to compete with Apple's own Safari by releasing a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS devices.
The launch of Chrome for iOS on the App Store could be as soon as this quarter, according to Macquarie Equities Research (via GigaOm). Its debut is seen as igniting a modern browser war on mobile devices, similar to the "Browser Wars" of the late 1990s between Internet Explorer and Netscape.
All third-party browsers for iOS must be based on WebKit, Apple's open source browser engine. The existing versions of Google Chrome, available for Mac, Windows and Android, are already based on the WebKit layout engine.
Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter said Chrome for PCs has been a "home run" for Google, as it has "significantly" reduced desktop traffic acquisition costs for the search giant.
He expects that Google will launch a major marketing campaign to hype the debut of Chrome for iOS. The company has run television spots promoting Chrome for desktops for some time, featuring celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, helping its advertising budget quadruple in the U.S. last year to $213 million.
Google's own Android operating system ships with a generic browser, but the company released a mobile version of Chrome for its Google Play application store in February. The free software remains in beta, but is well reviewed.
Third-party browsers first began appearing on the Apple-controlled iOS App Store in early 2009. Prior to that, browsers that would rival Apple's own Safari were rejected from the App Store.