The Browser Wars

The Browser Wars

The cyclical nature of the universe shows application within the browser industry, as it fluctuated between oligopolistic to competitive industry characteristics.

For example, in 1998-2004 Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox supported the oligopoly by limiting the browser innovation to activities like skinning IE and Mozilla.

Things changed as Apple, Nokia, and Google hopped on to an open-source project, Webkit, a rendering engine that combined with V8 JavaScript engine and Android.

The release of Android and Chrome initially created the ability for a competitive market to emerge because it was possible for a small team to build a browser in 4 easy steps.

  1. Build/skin a browser
  2. Get some traction
  3. Do a search deal
  4. Print money from all of the search queries your browser users are driving to your search partners.

browserlogos2From 2005-2012, spawns of V8 and WebKit proliferated the markets of desktop and mobile browsers that owe debt to Google’s commitment to open-sourcing (almost) everything.

While the spawns created the idea of competition, the monoculture became highly evident in 2013 when Google decided to mashup Webkit into its own open source rendering engine Blink.

The problem is that Blink programming favored Google’s larger product ecosystem with required hooks and preferences that forced the open source project, and all those who participated to function as a monoculture.

The only way to address the dynamic of the browser giant is to support more browsers that serve smaller niches – browsers with multi-channel revenue strategies.

Where are we right now?

Slowly inching our way up from under the Google giant, as the list of niche browsers grows including Microsoft Project Spartan and Vivaldi, Torch (BitTorrent), Epic (privacy), Nitro (Speed), Slim (fast startup), and Lightspeed (minimalist, search-oriented). Further, China supports many different browsers- 360 Safe (for PC), Baidu, UC Web and Cheetah.

 

The opportunity to disrupt large companies in the web industry is always present, however it is up to the community to support your local browser rather than always Google!

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