browser wars: 1997 vs 2007

Netscape has released a new version of Navigator. Netscape! And Apple has ported Safari to Windows. Its notable that for both, the main selling points of differentiation from IE and Firefox are new ways of messing around with tabs. I find this obsession with tabs on the part of these bit players to be a kind of cargo cult mentality; wave the word “tabs” around and the users will fall out of the skies.

The real innovation on the browser front is porting the web to handheld devices. In that regard, Opera is the king – they just released a version for the wifi-capable Nintendo DS. Opera really understands that the user interface needs to be custom to the device; anyone who has used the Opera browser on the Wii can attest to how well they’ve leveraged the strengths of the unique interface there. With the DS, they have two screens, and a stylus to play with. That is definitely going to be interesting; the DS is a fraction of the cost of bulkier “web access devices” like the UMPC or Origami, and there’s already a gigantic user base.

One thought on “browser wars: 1997 vs 2007”

  1. It’s funny, Opera had tabs years before anyone else (back in the 20th century), and it never brought them gobs of users… Opera had lots of features that no one else had (mouse gestures for instance), but it’s never been that popular. But as you noted they’ve really honed in on the embedded market and seem to be experiencing lots of success there.

    The new Netscape looks like a browser that’s just optimized to use their lame, Digg-wannabe site. Safari really baffles me. If you’re going to choose an open source base for your browser, why on earth would you choose KHTML? Ungh.

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