We’ve seen it countless times before and will see it in the future, like VHS vs Beta max, Blu-Ray disc vs HD dvd whenever a new technology is developed there is usually a battle for who has control over the distribution of it. This too was the case for the Internet. Browser Wars, which is part of “Download: The True Story of The Internet” looks at the battle for supremacy over Internet browsers.
The internet was described by one as something “you don’t know you need until you have it” as someone old enough to (just) remember a world before the World Wide Web, it’s amazing how true this is. If you’ve ever had an issue with power or your phone network for a day, you’ll realize just how web dependent we’ve become, the internet is increasingly becoming the basis of all our shopping, entertainment, social and research needs, so much so that through mobile technology we’ve created a way to constantly have access to a screen with the internet. However 10 years ago there certainly wasn’t a he ground swell of people who thought catching up over the phone or in person was to inefficient, or who weren’t happy to go to a local shopping center and whilst people may have been less then thrilled with searching through libraries for information, even the internet hasn’t made homework anything less than a burden for most students.
It’s striking just how little attention we pay to the humble browser. Even now with the plethora of options I tend to use what ever is in the dock without thinking much about it. However the browser is what transformed the World Wide Web from a highly specialized bunch of coding that was difficult for a regular person to use, to the mass medium we experience it as today.
It’s interesting to hear that at one point in time the Internet was synonymous with Netscape, much as search engines are now synonymous with Google. The way these things are able to change is a good reminder of the possibility and power of innovation and change.
This is further highlighted by the paradigm shift from Apple to Microsoft, showing that despite their monopoly and power innovation is always possible. As of February 2012 Apple is now valued at 462 billion dollars, nearly more than double Microsoft’s 257 billion dollars.
What once started out as a pipe-dream revolutionized the way we are able to use the Internet. Without it, free unrestricted Internet usage for everyday people would have been highly unlikely. That has now paved the way for multiple other platforms to re-create the World Wide Web, making it easier to use in Google’s case and more mobile in Apple’s case. Interestingly, Firefox, a descendant of Netscape, remains the second most popular Internet browser today.
It’s also worth keeping in mind the type of browser your audience use as a creative type on the Internet. Things like blogs and Facebook fan pages often included a breakdown of what browser was used to access your site. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly are they accessing it from a mobile device or computer? This will greatly impact the way they are able to interact with your content. Secondly, whilst inaccurate and superficial there is certainly a feeling amongst some that browser preferences reflect personality. Sites like this or this offer personality profiles for different browser users and could be worth factoring in to your next assessment of your audience.