By now it is all over the web: Yesterday, Apple has released it’s web browser, Safari, for Windows. When I first heard the news by live feed to the keynote at WWDC, I must admit that I was non-plussed. I mean, didn’t the browser wars end 10 years ago? And if I want cross-platform, secure browsing, why not just use Firefox? Frankly I prefer Firefox on my Mac and rarely use Safari 2.0. (Some of Firefox’s superior features include performance, security, in-line searching, more obvious tabbed browsing, and a cross-platform browser that proudly out-does Redmond in so many ways.)
So why would I want to switch to Safari? I’m not sure whether I will ultimately switch to Safari for browsing (away from Firefox), but I have installed it and I will give it a try.
But I’m not sure that’s the point. Apple simply must have an independent browser play for several reasons:
- the webtop is becoming the desktop, and if something would happen to Firefox, Microsoft would have too much power
- the iPhone uses Safari, and initially all third-party applications will be written for Safari, not custom OS X apps. This is perhaps the most important reason. Developers want to test apps on their native platform, and some of them (!) are still running Windows.
- Some have speculated that Apple wants to use its great apps to entice people to switch to Mac.
- It is possible that Apple has actually created the means to write cross-platform applications, and Safari is simply it’s latest foray, after iTunes, into Windows compatibility.
So regardless of whether Safari gains significant market share (it’s currently at around 5%), it’s an important play for Apple strategically. But still I find it more Yawn than Shock.