Don't count Netscape out yet.
May 30, 2003 9:58 AM
There has been some pretty rampant speculation about what will happen to Netscape now that AOL has settled their dispute with MSFT to the tune of a $750 million settlement. Quotes like this from MSNBC
are out there...
"Both AOL Time Warner and Microsoft win on this one," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "Microsoft turns what had become an aggravating enemy into at least a marginal friend and possibly a cooperative partner. AOL gets much-needed cash and are able to divest themselves of units that were costing them money like the Netscape unit."
On the webdesign list
, a short thread explored the possibilities of there being no Netscape or Mozilla, and there was one voice of reason ("S.Marshall") who said...
Even from a purely technical point of view (i.e. leaving aside the political), control over your code is a very good thing, because when you're using somebody else's software you can't fix their bugs or limitations (sure MAYBE if you have a close financial relationship you can put in a change request that MAYBE they'll handle in six months, but that's never good enough).
And this is an argument that I buy. I can't imagine that AOL would want to dumb Mozilla/Netscape 7 in favor of going blindly with IE over the better part of the decade. And, I haven't heard any rumors at all that AOL is going to dump Netscape (and generally, I hear rumors). And the Netscape folks don't only do a browser, they provide other services within AOL. But this isn't the only part of the MSFT deal that's worth talking about. Dick Parsons, the AOL Time Warner CEO said this in an internal email...
The settlement should also help us deliver an even better online experience to AOL members. The agreement provides that Microsoft will give us technical information and support to ensure the peak performance of the AOL service on current and future Windows operating systems. In addition, Microsoft will provide us with an enhanced ability to market the AOL service to consumers, including opening up a new channel to provide AOL software discs to computer manufacturers worldwide.
If AOL doesn't ship with every copy of Windows, the market penetration of the service would decline (more rapidly). So it's a good thing to have that access (imho, because they pay the bills at Chéz Kapusta). However, at the end of the day, I have to assume that AOL will not limit it's choices and place any control of its own destiny into the hands of a friend or rival.