Mozilla released Firefox 3 on Tuesday, pitting the latest version of its fast-growing Web browser against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and, to a lesser extent, Apple’s Safari and other browsers. A few years ago, after it vanquished Netscape, Microsoft had more than 90 percent of the Web browser market. It now has 76 percent, versus 18 percent for Firefox. (Detroit Free Press) Microsoft and Apple are working on new versions of the respective browsers. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
“Call it ‘Browser War 2.0,’” said Greg Lamb in The Christian Science Monitor. Microsoft and Apple are fighting for “prestige and name recognition,” and Mozilla is championing “an ‘open source’ world of software”—all three have commerce in mind. The browsers are free, but as the Web siphons functions like word processing and photo editing from PCs, browsers are becoming “indirect pathways” to revenue.
Then maybe Mozilla should do more to “court business users,” said Stephen Shankland in a CNet News blog. Firefox 3 is faster, leaner, and more secure than its competitors, but for it to conquer this “new front in the browser wars,” it needs to find a way to bring Microsoft-prone IT pros on board. With 18 percent of the market, Firefox “is a force to be reckoned with,” but “Microsoft knows the stakes are high.”
Mozilla is already looking to the next battle: “mobile browsing,” said Steve Hamm in BusinessWeek.com. Right now, “chaos rules”—there are dozens of cell phone browsers, no standards, and no Microsoft-like dominant player. Apple upped the ante with the iPhone, which uses Safari, but as competitors rush to catch up, Firefox has an advantage: open source technology is popular with handset companies because it lets them “share the costs and results.”