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Safari As A Driver Of Innovation On The Web

Safari As A Driver Of Innovation On The Web

by , 12:30 PM EDT, June 4th, 2004

John Allsopp is a developer of a CSS development tools called Style Master, and he has penned an interesting editorial on the state of innovation and standards in the world of Web browsers. Mr. Alsopp says that Microsoft's decision to halt Internet Explorer development except for the as yet-unreleased Longhorn OS, cedes control over innovation to other browser developers, at least until Longhorn is released.

From those musings comes some interesting comments about Apple, Safari, and iTunes. Mr. Alsopp notes that Safari has been ported, at least in part, to Windows, powering iTunes for Windows on millions of Windows desktops. His idea is that Apple is in a prime position to be an innovation leader in browsers, and not just for the Mac. From his editorial, which has been published by Australian publication, The Age:

What a browser would need to ignite the imagination, to get people downloading and upgrading is something new, something unique. Not just a tabbed interface, or faster rendering, or lots of CSS stuff that appeals to developers but users wouldn't care less about.

Have you used Safari for Windows? Do you have iTunes on their Windows machine? Literally millions of people use a big chunk of Safari on Windows. It's the browser built into iTunes. It works today.

So arguably the quickest, most standards compliant browser around, which by the way is based on the open source KHTML rendering engine, is available right now on Windows. And to use iTunes, you need to use it. Apple contributes to the KHTML project, so many of its innovations will find their way into that browser. On the Mac, Windows and UNIX variants.

Apple, along with KHTML, Opera and Mozilla, may have two or three years to innovate on the browser front, without any competition from Microsoft.

And Apple might just have found the killer app to drive people to adopt a new, lightweight, fast, open source based, standards-compliant multi-platform browser - mainstream commercial online music.

We can only hope to see Safari for Windows, and maybe other platforms. And with it thriving browser innovation based on the open standards of the World Wide web.

There's a lot more in the full article, including lots of background information, which we recommend as an interesting read.

Thanks to LaurieF for pointing us to this story in the TMO forums.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Mr. Alsopp has raised some interesting points. The company with the biggest market share in browsers, Microsoft, isn't going to be doing any real browser development for some times. This is an opportunity for the Mozilla project, Safari and the KHTML rendering engine, Opera, and perhaps even platform-specific companies like The Omni Group, to acelerate the move to true open standards. Even Netscape could get in the act of driving innovation, but we hardly expect the media Suits at AOL to recognize the opportunity, or even to care, so we'll leave them out.

Will a mad rush to standards happen? Perhaps. It's interesting that 5 or 6 years after the Browser Wars, there are actually more browser choices on the market than ever. We'd be surprised, however, if that choice ever attracts much attention from the bagillions of Windows users who are all about using whatever Microsoft shoves in their face.

It's curious, however, that Apple might actually have the biggest opportunity to attract new browser users in the Windows world, but then why would Apple make Safari for Windows? It doesn't generate revenue, but it could generate mind share. That's mind share on top of the mind share for iPod and iTunes. Would that help sell more Macs (or iPods)? It doesn't seem as if iPods and iTunes for Windows has helped sell more Macs, so we have our doubts.

Whatever the case, all of this makes some interesting food for thought.

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