There was a time in our Mac lives, not too many years ago, where Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was about the only browser game in town.
Then Apple announced Safari for Mac (and Windows), Internet Explorer for Mac was discontinued. Since then, browsers for Mac and Windows users have become a growing breed. Why so many browsers? How different are they? How many browsers do you need on your Mac?
The Browser Wars
Our browsers are the basic window to the internet, an all purpose tool that gathers and displays and interacts with the world wide web. For most Mac users, Safari is the browser of choice.
For most Windows PC users, Internet Explorer is the choice.
Beyond the two platforms, Mozilla’s Firefox continues to take market share from Microsoft, but Google’s Chrome, both Mac and Windows, has grown surprisingly fast.
They’re the market share leaders, but not the only browser games in town. Mozilla also distributes SeaMonkey, and all purpose browser with built-in email, editor and other features. Mozilla also ships Camino, which is Firefox in Mac clothing, but without all the add ons.
In other words, Camino, even at version 2.x and sharing code with the speedy Firefox, is less capable, no faster, but merely better looking. Why does Mozilla ship so many browsers for Mac and Windows users? Those browsers, collectively, have barely 1-percent of the browser usage market.
Competition is a good thing. Firefox and Safari put a fire under Microsoft, and version 8 of Internet Explorer is the best ever, and Microsoft promises improvements in version 9.
There’s also Opera, Mac and Windows, which has another home on some mobile devices. Safari and Google Chrome share the same basic WebKit rendering engine, though the latest version of Chrome appears much faster than Safari on a Mac.
Why So Many Browsers?
I don’t have an answer to this question: Why all the browsers? Why does Mozilla need to ship two additional (on multiple platforms) browsers beyond Firefox? What does Mozilla gain? Besides disrupting the market place and further weakening Microsoft’s browser market share, what does Google stand to gain with Chrome?
Arguably, Safari is elegant and clean, and, for now devoid of most of the add ons that permeate Firefox and now Chrome. Camino is Mac-like, but without the features of Firefox, remains a boring afterthought for Mac users.
Firefox is cluttered, Chrome is boringly simple, typical spartan Google.
Opera, at best is quirky, clumsy, cluttered, and remains the odd duck among browser users—and an after thought in market share usage.
Generally speaking, all these browsers do about the same thing and provide a window to the internet. Firefox is beloved by developers and geeks because of the add on tools. Safari and Internet Explorer take the default share of Mac and PC users. After the default, a user must find and download a different browser—and they do.
What does Google gain with Chrome? What does Mozilla gain with a browser beyond Firefox? Why does Opera bother? Is there an economic model for browser makers, who, by and large, ship their wares for free?
It’s been said that Google shares search engine results revenue with Mozilla and Apple. If so, there’s good reason for Firefox and Safari. But what of the other browsers that continue to have a usage market share under 1-percent?
For my Mac I use Safari and Firefox. I’m trying out Chrome. It’s fast. If I call Chrome spartan or utilitarian then I’m being kind. Ugly comes to mind, too, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Google is made up of engineers obviously not interested in esthetics.
Do you have a favorite Mac browser beyond Safari? If so, why so? Share your experience in the Comments section.