Sunday, September 30, 2007

Intro and Web Browser Shake Up

First of all, I just want to thank you for reading my first ever post in my new blog. This blog will be a mostly free of structure expression of anything going through my mind. Anything on here may be informative, like a tutorial or explanation, argument, views, thoughts, or intros.

Or it could be a completely pointless post. Cheers! For today:

Web browsers: they are used for everything today. Surfing the web, reading the news, checking internet based email, viewing and sharing photos, interacting in social sites, purchases, banking; you name it, it can probably do it.

Since 2004, a new major player came out into the browser market that not only showed the world that as the internet evolves, the browser must too, and make money to boot. That web browser is known as Mozilla Firefox. It was the first browser to challenge the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer since the original browser wars in the 1990's (Internet Explorer vs. Netscape). It proved that dominance in a market can be swayed over time if that dominance allows decay in innovation. While alternatives existed at the time, many were proprietary or paid alternatives, to access something that many used to gain information and software for free, it's hard to sell someone a tool where one exists for free.

So with Firefox came tabbed browsing to the web, along with improved (but not perfect) support for standards, and a more lean and stable program than it's rival, at the same cost: zero. In three years, the browser surpassed 400 million downloads, claiming nearly 25 percent of the browser usage market in Europe (including some countries with over a 45 percent market share) and also became one of the most profitable browsers in existance, due to it's deal with Google about including search by default in the top right bar and being the default homepage of Firefox installations.

So why is it now that Firefox is starting to slow down? Several reasons; one of course is that there is now much fiercer competition on the horizon. You have Internet Explorer 7 recently coming out, Opera which has been released for free, Apple releasing Safari for Windows, and many specialty browsers (which are often more mods of Internet Explorer) that are included with Internet Providers software installation (such as AT&T's web browser, Earthlink's, and of course AOL). For me this has been the largest reason why my usage of Firefox has dwindled slightly, I have begun to move over to Opera.

It has also become a victim of it's own success, in that in each new release, the browser is beginning to embed new features permenantly into the browser, causing the browser to become a fatter cousin of it's former self (that started as a lean alternative).

In it's defense, Firefox has the most configurable interface and functionality of any browser on the planet, far surpassing it's main rival of Internet Explorer and contempary smaller competitors such as Opera and Safari. Due in large part to it's commited base of developers (in result of being an Open Source application), if you'd like the browser to do something, more than likely you can find an add-on that does it.

Competition is good, and it is sure heating up in the browser market. Firefox is still nipping at it's rivals heels for marketshare to be sure, but at a slower pace. It is still a great browser, and the best introduction to alternatives out there, but they need to decide whether they want to be an all in one with features (such as Opera) or an alternative leaner browser with good support and standards with *optional* add-ons. Or maybe just a powerful marketing hand.

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