Total Pageviews

Monday, December 10, 2012

Daily Report: The Browser Wars Are Back

Many consumers are not so sure what a Web browser is. But these programs have become a crucial business for tech companies like Google and Microsoft, Claire Cain Miller reports in Monday's New York Times. That is because they are now the entry point not just to the Web but to everything stored online, like Web apps, documents and photos.

And as the cloud grows more important, both for businesses and people, the browser companies are engaged in a new battle to win our allegiance that will affect how we use the Internet.

It's an echo of the so-called browser wars of the 1990s, when Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator fought for dominance on the personal computer. This time, though, the struggle is shaping up to be over which company will control the mobile world - with browsers on smartphones and tablets. Entrenched busine sses are at stake. Google's browser-based business apps, for instance, threaten Microsoft's desktop software.

“Twenty years ago, we didn't know how the Internet was going to get used by people, and we for sure didn't know about mobile or tablets,” said Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the first major browser, Netscape Navigator, and an investor in Rockmelt, a browser start-up. “Mobile is a whole new level of reinvention, so it feels like we're in the most fertile time of invention since the early '90s.”

Browsers give Web companies more control over how people use their products, and data about how people use the Web, which they can use to improve their products and inform advertisers. Faster browsing leads to more Web activity, which in turn leads to more revenue for Web companies - whether searching on Google, or shopping on Amazon.com, which built a Kindle browser, Silk.

As Mr. Andreessen put it, “Why let something be between us and our users? Let 's have as much control of the user experience as we can have; make sure our services are wired in.”