In the ten years since Netscape 1.0 launched, the web has evolved tremendously, but the user experience of the web browser has remained largely unchanged. Firefox supports a host of modern web standards and eliminates many of the online nuisances that have sprouted up over the last decade. Still, a user migrating from Netscape 1 to Firefox 1 would feel right at home. We think there’s room for innovating the web browser user experience, and the open soure, cross-platform, and actively developed Mozilla codebase is the perfect technology platform for such innovation.
The business case? Well, Microsoft set the price of the browser to $0 quite a while ago. That proved to be a major hurdle back in the Netscape days, but what’s changed over the past few years is that online referral- and search-related business models have matured dramatically and in fact power big chunks of the Internet. Huge businesses (like AOL Search) and thousands of niche online ventures alike are built around Google and Yahoo’s adword programs. These same business models are now providing the financial footing for web browsers. Opera’s CEO recently explained that his company was able to release the browser for free thanks to an expanded search sponsorship arrangement with Google. The Mozilla Foundation has alluded to search related business arrangements and has created a for-profit subsidiary. These success stories show that even simple search “distribution” integration points in the browser can provide a solid financial footing for browser providers, and do so in a way that enhances the user experience (remember, the search box was added to Firefox because users needed a faster way to search online). In sum, we’re quite comfortable that, if enough users choose our browser, we can keep the lights on here at Flock without violating user’s privacy or compromising the user experience.
An interesting read. §