There are several “wars” in the technology world: Search engines, smartphones, social networks, but one war is not really clear for many- The war of browsers. All browsers are free and supposedly the companies don’t earn from it, so what is the war all about?
A Little History Lesson…
Before 1993 there were a few browsers, but none managed to gain a real hold on the market, but then Netscape has arrived and until 1996 held 90% of the market. Microsoft didn’t stay apathetic to this growing trend and developed their own browser, the Internet Explorer. By 2002, Microsoft took over the market completely with a 95% market share! Its biggest advantages were it came along Windows as default and it was free.
When Netscape understood it is surely going to loose in 1998, It has established Mozilla, a company that supported the open source code. Since then, Mozilla went to its own path and Netscape has been purchased by AOL. In 2004, Mozilla launched the first version of Firefox that in a way was the real successor of Netscape… The competition between Firefox and IE continued, when Firefox had an obvious technological advantage, however the operating system dominance of Microsoft kept the IE monopoly.
At the end of 2008 Google joined the race as well, launching its browser, Chrome. It introduced a simple and powerful interface which a lot of it is being copied today by others. Today, the Chrome is already in its 14th version.
The Economic Model
The main question is why these companies have to compete that hard…? The answer is (like always) money. The revenue comes (indirectly) from recruiting users to the companies search engine. As we saw in The Connection Between Browsers and Search Engines Usage, Many people are tending to use the default search engine of the browser and this is translated to a lot of money…
Although Google is leading safely the search industry it come to understanding that their still more potential to grow, Bing is relying on IE users and 97% of Firefox income is from search engine commissions. Who said there is no revenue from web browsers?
The Situation Today
The direction is pretty clear- IE is constantly loosing from its market share (although it still first), Chrome is constantly growing (although it still third) and Firefox holds steady. Others browsers like Safari and Opera still have insignificant market share. Here is the current situation from the beginning of the year:
If its up to Google, we are going live inside the browser. The company believe in it that much that it developing a complete cloud computing operating system called Google Chrome OS. Other element to consider is HTML 5, which already today is supported by browsers and will be supported better in the future.
Another area that became significant and will only get bigger is the mobile field. Both Google and Microsoft have browsers to mobile devices which they try to improve. Apple has Safari, but it still holds just a small part of the market share.
I think that we must follow this browsers war to identify new elements and trends that can surely affect our work at home. I personally believe that Google is presenting (at the moment) the best future model, but only time will tell…