Monday, June 18, 2007

Does Apple want to Steal Firefox users?

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a big fan of the web browser Firefox. I have been loyal to it since version 1.0. Being a web designer I still use Internet Explorer to view the pages I design to make sure everything looks and works correctly. When Apple announced Safari for Windows, I groaned a little inside. Another browser I need to develop for. If it renders pages the same way it does on the Mac, this shouldn't be an issue.

However, John Lilly, Mozilla's (The company that developes Firefox) COO, thinks that Steve Jobs and Apple are trying to steal market share away from him. My first reaction is that John's being a little paranoid. Especially with the horrible release of the Safari Beta. Lilly then talks about how Apple wants to expand market share by edging out people using browsers with smaller market share (such as: Firefox, Opera, Camino, etc) in an attempt to keep up with the dominant browser out there, Internet Explorer, or IE. John thinks Jobs is attempting to establish a browser duopoly with IE and Safari at the helm.

If you follow the read link to Lilly's blog you will see that it exactly what Steve Jobs is showing. Jobs shows a graph of browser marketshare split as it is now, with about 78% for IE, 15% Firefox, 5% Safari (Mac only) and 2% other. The next slide shows Safari taking the smaller shares from Firefox. It becomes pretty evident that Jobs wants this to happen.

I think it's despicable. It's not that I don't like Apple. I genuially think that they make some decent, albeit, pricey machines and a nice OS. I've had two myself. Where I loose faith in the Apple mantra is with it's stereotypical fan base, and the snobbery that goes with it. I just can't have faith in a guy that goes up on stage at WWDC and makes dig after dig at his competition. For a company that bills it computers as machines that just work, and don't need drivers, and so easy, they sure don't like to plan nice with others.

What's even more interesting is that, as even the Apple users have pointed out, their are some bold new features in the upcoming Leopard OS that bare a striking resemblance to Microsoft Vista. I still can't get past the fact that Apple's big thing is that they can run Windows on their Apple computers, but Windows boxes (or even a self build) won't run OS X. You can only see these moves by Apple as an attempt to become monopolistic. This is exactly what we don't need. We don't need another computer monopoly like Microsoft. We don't need Apple to become the new Microsoft.

I think that consumers are aware of this, as we have seen a rise in Linux over the past few years. I think there are enough people in search of the alternatives to keep the momentum in innovation of technology up. I find it hard to believe that the people I know who Firefox users, will switch any time soon. I think that Jobs is grossly over exaggerating his client base, it isn't Firefox users who are looking for an alternative, it's IE users. At least they should be. The reasons that IE users should switch (security) is the same thing that has been found to be the flaw in Safari. Arguably, being a beta it shouldn't be instantly evaluated on that, but this is a more of an alpha release than anything.

As always in technology, time will tell. I doubt, however, that Apple will being reaching that much market share anytime soon.

[Read] CNet
[Read] John's Blog

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