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AOL-Netscape Abandons Focus on the Browser
2001-06-11 23:14:33

Digital Gar Gar Gar!
I really should drink more, but I just don't have the energy...
-- Johnnie Royale


"The browser is a crown jewel. However, six months from now, you won't consider Netscape to be a browser company," said Netscape President Jim Bankoff in a recent interview. In short, Netscape is throwing in the towel and will no longer compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer in the browser wars. IE wins.

Jim Bankoff could have announced new technologies being developed for the Netscape browser -- if Netscape was developing any. He could have talked about a new, stable version of the product that's badly needed, a version that doesn't crash every time it hits a little Flash animation, some poorly-written Javascript, or an imperfectly formatted bit of HTML -- if Netscape was actually going to release such a product.

Instead he babbled on about how Netscape is going to concentrate on building portal sites and subscription-based services for the AOL Time Warner empire.

Big, costly sites that depend on advertising revenue are DEAD. You can make a living from a subscription-based service if you're running a porn site or a really specialized niche site, but no one has been able to apply that business model to any other type of mass market site. It's been tried, and they've died.

Would someone please inform Jim that 1996 happened 5 years ago?

Yes Jim, you can't make money selling a browser when Microsoft gives one away for free with their OS. However, you CAN depend on the fact that most people never figure out how to change their default homepage, you CAN depend on the fact that any bookmarks you ship with your browser are going to still be in that browser five years later, and you CAN depend on the fact that if you ship buggy software that sooner or later people will start using something else.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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