Still Safari Speculatin’

safari.jpgNow that the iPhone madness is somewhat behind us, let’s revisit the public beta of Safari 3… on PC. It was quite the shocker when Steve Jobs announced that Apple ported their web browser to the Windows platform — and the big question still is: Why? While a software suite like iLife has the potential to bring in revenue, these days web browsers are given away. So the move isn’t as simple as selling a piece of software.

The prevailing rational for a Windows version of Safari has been to provide developers a testbed to produce AJAX iPhone applications. Which strikes me as absurd. While all modern browsers have their differences (and quirks), for the most part they (attempt) to follow the same standards and provide similar functionality. And it’s not like browser testing tools, Macs running Safari, or even iPhones are in short supply. So I don’t buy this theory either. Here’s another theory I don’t buy: A few have suggested the Safari browser will contribute to the Apple halo effect — as in Safari is so great, Windows users will trade in their computers for Macs.

Of course, I do have my own theory… First off, there isn’t much to v3 – It looks and acts very similar to the prior version of Safari. There are a few obvious enhancements such as resizable text fields, but probably not enough to warrant a new version number. Which leads me to believe we haven’t yet seen everything v3 has to offer. Now let’s combine that nugget with .Mac – which was originally ahead of it’s time in online storage and sharing, but has since languished in the Web 2.0 era. So I’m envisioning the Safari 3 browser as a cross-platform entrance, à la Flock, to a modernized .Mac mashup. Who’s taking wagers?

Originally published on the Amazon Daily blog.

4 thoughts on “Still Safari Speculatin’”

  1. Except Safari really, frankly, isn’t so great – especially compared to Firefox. With all of the resources being poured into Firefox, and extensions for it, by IBM, Google, etc, Safari just seems kind of dumb. Even a lot of Mac users don’t use Safari, and run Firefox.

    Safari does have AJAX quirks, so I buy the iPhone developer tool story. Browser test tools just don’t work for this kind of thing, you have to test in the specific browser. And buying Macs is too expensive – not to mention a huge headache. If you’re a development house using all Windows, introducing Macs has major costs – not just in the HW, but in IT support. You need to train or hire people to handle it, etc. Those costs tend to be higher than the HW.

    And for the small guy doing app development, which is where a lot of cool stuff comes from, buying a second machine just to have the browser is cost prohibitive.

    I don’t think bringing Safari to Windows was a huge deal – it is based on KHTML which is portable. I suspect most of the code just came over as-is, especially as they didn’t bother to re-do the UI for Windows.

  2. I have to agree with the first things Mega said – Safari for Windows isn’t so great. It’s just not a good experience, not with Firefox, opera and even IE7 there doing it better.

    Three major Apple projects for Windows – Safari, Quicktime and iTunes since 7.0 – they are all terrible, awkward, memory hogs, bloated monsters and in the case of iTunes, ridiculously slow.

    If Apple really wants to get me to switch, they should hire a few Windows folks to get the bugs out of the code.

  3. Two other details I’ve heard elsewhere:

    1) Most of Safari already runs on Windows anyway since it is used inside iTunes to render pages, so this isn’t that big a step.

    2) Browsers make money, mostly due to searches executed from their search bars. Apparently FireFox makes money from Google for this and presumably Safari will for Apple as well. Don’t remember how much it was though…

  4. Widgets. Safari on windows is all about widgets. Cross platform with the iphone, appletv, Mac and windows. Will blow Yahoo out of the water.

    And yes — every Apple application for the PC blows. In fact, Apple applications for the Mac blow (iphoto, itunes), although Safari is not bad. Why the hell is iphoto SO slow? Why is itunes so slow?

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