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Is Mozilla obsolete?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJuly 26, 2009 11:37 AM


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For Mozilla and Google, Group Hugs Get Tricky. To some extent it seems that the story is going to be relevant in a few years when Chrome will presumably be more of a full-featured browser. Right now it seems a non-issue since Chrome's penetration is rather low. But this part was pretty weird:

"Mozilla performed a really good service, but you have to wonder what their relevance is going to be going forward," says Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an independent firm that tracks the company. "They keep Microsoft honest. But if Google is pushing innovation in its own browser, it can play that role."

It seems bizarre to insert a quote in from a firm whose bread is buttered by Microsoft. One would suspect that such a company would have a good sense of how Microsoft might respond to competition, but be less cognizant about the specific details of said competition. I'm not a Richard Stallman type fanatic, but it seems a no-brainer that perhaps there might be some benefit from an organization whose strength is leveraging its credibility with the open source programming community. The original "browser wars" were between Netscape and Microsoft when Netscape was still dominated by a start-up culture. The Mozilla Foundation is obviously not a conventional corporation. We really don't know what a full-blown browser war between two public corporations, a duopoly if you will, would look like. I assume that corporate competition would see predictable gains in efficiency, productivity, and continuous incremental additions to functionality. But the open source movement, or a start-up, would be more likely to "think outside the box" and take risks, and flip-paradigms. After all, the browser technology was dead in the water for years after the vanquishing of Netscape by IE. No established tech company saw any market opportunity to challenge Microsoft. The Mozilla Foundation created an opportunity by disrupting IE's de facto monopoly in what seemed like a quixotic attempt at the time. Sometimes society may profit from those who act in a manner which may not maximize their personal short-term profit.

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