Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thoughts on Safari

  1. Rumors. Find me a rumor site that predicted Safari on Windows. If there are any out there, I want them sorted by time before announcement. "Scoops" the day before don't impress me that much. 6 months in advance, and you have my attention. Any site that predicted this - and I mean something more than a dumb blind luck guess - is a site I'm going to read more often.
  2. Analysts. Did anybody see this coming? Did anybody posit it as a direction Apple should go? I'm sure there are people out there being paid truckloads of money to analyze Apple. Yet Apple has a way of surprising (seemingly) everyone with moves that, after the fact, make (almost) total sense and are logical. Find me a credible analyst who nailed this, and you've identified someone you should pay more attention to in the future.
  3. Money. I've heard that one of the motivating factors is the revenue generated from the built-in Google search link. They say Apple (and others like Mozilla/Firefox) receives millions of dollars a year from Google, enough money that Safari is one of the, if not THE, most profitable software products Apple has, even though they give it away for free. So, get that software into the hands of more people, then you can sit back and wait for more truckloads of money to roll in. That's great, except:
  4. Market share. Isn't the previous really just a typical example of the decision facing all software developers? You can develop for Windows and have potential access to 95% of the computer market, or you can develop for Mac (or anything else, really) and access 5% or less of that market. When Apple is the one sitting back thinking "Hrm, we could make even more money by offering this on Windows," why should any developer think different(ly)?

    This isn't iTunes. iTunes is a means to help sell iPods. And while yes, this still boils down to a way to make more money from the larger market, there is an additional component. One could argue that Safari on Windows will help to drive iPhone sales. It might help to generate interest (as if the iPhone needed more help there), but since the iPhone doesn't depend on Safari on Windows (or on Mac, either), you don't have the same product tie-in that you have with iPod/iTunes.

    Why stop at Safari? Apple could almost certainly make more money on products like, say, Final Cut Pro if they offered a Windows version. Just run down the list of their software. 5% of the market, or 95% of the market? Obviously I'm playing the slippery slope game here. But Apple has taken the first (second?) step along that path. Apple generates interest by having these things as Mac only. When Apple stops making compelling reasons to choose Mac, by way of providing the same thing on Windows, we're in trouble.
  5. Security. So yeah, sounds like the beta has some issues. If this had happened in reverse, there would be no end to the "ZOMG, Macz r full of security holez!" blogs and news headlines. In fact, that's essentially what the Month of Apple Bugs was: holes in 3rd party applications. Find me this headline, anywhere: "Apple Browser Exposes Weaknesses in Vista's Vaunted Security Model." I'll grant it doesn't look good for Apple, but please tell me how this is a win for Microsoft. If all I have to do to defeat OS security is release a buggy, unfinished product, then is the OS really that secure?

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