Do you remember the first great browser war era of the last decade? In this corner, there was Netscape, and in the far corner, coming up faster than anyone expected, was Microsoft. At the time, Microsoft actually did a smart thing. They built a better application, so it wasn’t just a matter of tying it irretrievably to the Windows platform. Even Mac users benefited from the competition.
It didn’t take long before Netscape became big and bloated, something that’s said about Microsoft nowadays. On the other hand, Internet Explorer was the lean and mean fighting machine that justifiably deserved its leadership status.
Of course, none of this takes into account Microsoft’s ruthless marketing tactics that got it at the wrong side of the Department of Justice. But it didn’t hurt having a better product.
However, owning the browser market didn’t serve Microsoft well, as it essentially set its browser development efforts aside, resting on its laurels. That created the vacuum filled by a number of lesser browsers, and then, from the ashes of the failed Netscape company, came Firefox.
Depending on whom you ask, Firefox today has 15% of the browser market and maybe as high as 20%. Apple’s Safari, while restricted to a single minority computing platform, garners 5%. Opera, which is available on several operating systems, doesn’t come close.
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