The Browser Wars - Part III

Since the 90’s, the Browser Wars continue to rage in the market, as new factors enter, such as Speed and better usability.

The rise of changes

Around the 90’s, Apple decides to begin working on their revolutionary phone, the iPhone. As development began, Apple quickly realized the need for them to make their own web browser. They decided to base their browser upon KDE Konqueror, a relatively unknown web browser and almost dead. Its source code was very sleek and clean, and the compiled browser would not take much disk space on computer. Corresponding to Apple’s design beliefs, they launched, from it, a new browser called Safari, in 2003, then available on both Windows PC and Mac. Safari itself was very clean and followed all standards, which prompted minimalist users to get Safari for their own computers. The modified KDE rendering engine was named “WebKit”

Meanwhile, in the giants’ sphere, the Flash standard arises, and all major web browsers implement it, except for Safari, in which Steve Jobs declined its implementation for Mac OS. Safari for Windows, PPAPI-based, still kept a semi-native implementation of Flash in within.

With the arrival of Android by Google, mobile website development is born and changes the entire web browser landscape. People are now being able to access the Internet using their phones, which will influence the outcome of the Browser Wars… The Flash standard implementation is however very slow and impratical on mobile, and Google will drop Flash support for Android. With Flash out of the mobile market, the factors in market share domination will change.

Mozilla Firefox has now risen on Windows to become the dominant web browser: with unique and extremely useful features such as Session Restore, AutoCorrect or Tab Restore, it becomes a big hit with Windows users. With seeing this, AOL-Netscape kills Netscape Navigator and encourages users to use Firefox.

Speed, the new factor

Features might have been the only thing that used to make web browsers popular: but with the rise of the average Internet speed, the increased computational speed and the Mobile having a much more important place in people’s lives, speed became a new factor to consider. It can be said that Flash was among the triggers of this transition from feature to speed.

Apple Safari was closed-source - but its rendering engine WebKit was fully open-source. It included WebCore and JavaScriptCore which were also forks from KHTML and KJS (directly from the KDE Konqueror web browser) The engine WebKit is rated to be the fastest, with the lowest footprint on system resources.

However, development of this engine has been proven to be very costly - therefore, Apple decides to grant Google full control of the development of WebKit on Windows, while they retain its control for Mac.

Google then begins developing the new Google Chrome web browser with a fork of WebKit, called Blink, which operates on the same standards and development principles as WebKit. Google adds new things such as Bookmark synchronisation with Google accounts which was never done before. Many privacy features previously disabled on Apple’s WebKit are now enabled on Google Chrome. Speed is a goal that still remains on Google’s version of WebKit and Blink is rated the fastest on Windows.

In the meantime, Mozilla Firefox continues focusing on new features and UI redesigns, while neglecting speed. Firefox is known to eat a lot of system resources and is known to be a big hog, which would worsen at each update. Internet Explorer is already dead and full of security holes, nobody is using it at that time.

Chrome and Safari now appear as stable and extremely fast browsers, Chrome is shown to be much more adaptable and less restrictive than Safari. With this, Chrome gets to outshine all other web browsers, dethroning the old Mozilla Firefox and is also Open-source.

Conclusion

In the end, WebKit has become the new reference engine, Chrome is now dominating the market with more than 60% of the entire market share.


Part 4: A new browser landscape coming soon!