Sunday, December 11, 2005
John Pallatto of eWeek wrote an interesting column that really got me thinking. He asserts upstart browsers like Firefox and Flock need not rock IE's world to be considered a success, and that browser market share is basically an irrelevant statistic that doesn't mean anything.
He says we are narrowly focusing on the old paradigm of the outdated "browser wars" and missing the bigger picture that there is plenty of room for alternative browsers and innovation beyond IE:
"The point is with hundreds of millions of Internet users around the globe even one or two market share points equals an audience of millions. That explains why the intense focus we see on whether Firefox can steal more market share from Explorer is really irrelevant.
Firefox should never be considered a failure even if it doesn't build its market share much beyond the 8 to 9 percent portion it reputedly holds now. That it has been able to build a user base of millions in the face of the Explorer's market saturation is a remarkable achievement by any measure."
I think he is right on the money here. And although new players like Flock don't have a strong business model yet, I believe they can still develop a sustainable model, as long as they have funding and the dedication to build a superior product, as Google did in its early days.
If you think about the millions of blogs purported to exist, and as one who publishes a blog myself, I have to believe there is a commercial market for software like Flock that makes it easier to manage a blog. I for one can attest that I'd rather pay some kind of fee than to see contextual pay-per-click ads embedded in the browser application, which was one of Flock's plans the last time I heard.
Actually, the more I think about this, the more I like the concept. What would stop Flock from charging some kind of fee if their software kicks butt? Maybe that's their stealth plan.
Thus far, however, it's not quite as easy to blog to a blog in Flock as I would like. But it's still early in the game. Maybe we will yet see the rise of commercially viable, specialty browsers unlike anything that exists now.
And blogs are just one unique aspect of Flock. I suspect there could also be a market for selling browser extensions that provide valuable functionality. I wouldn't be surprised if some independent marketplace for extensions popped up in the next year for buying and selling extensions, with Flock taking a cut. Why shouldn't those clever extension developers get paid, too?
Hmm, that gives me an idea! :)
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