Then, out of the blue, Apple launched Safari, and that launched the 21st century browser wars which culminated in the Golden Age of Mac browsers. Golden Age? Yes. Pretty much every browser you can run on a Mac is good, fast, secure, and renders web pages better than ever.
That said, each browser has a distinct personality which sets it apart from competitors. Competitors? I don’t fully understand or appreciate the competition; mostly because browsers are free. Regardless, we all benefit from the ongoing browser wars.
The single most used browser in the world is Google’s Chrome (desktop PC, notebook PC, mobile devices), probably followed up by Microsoft’s various versions of Internet Explorer (running on most Windows PCs, but with little marketshare among mobile devices, then Apple’s Safari (on Macs and iOS devices), then Opera, and a long tail of other also-ran browsers.
One of my favorite browsers for many years was the venerable Opera browser, which now runs on the Chromium framework from Google. Both Safari and Chrome once shared the WebKit framework, but, as expected, Google has set off on their own direction. Firefox has succumbed to reasonability and now plays nice-nice with web video standards, while Google is all about creating their own, thereby messing up web video once again.
While every browser has a distinct personality and a laundry list of varying features, the list of what they do that matches each other is nominal but important. They’re fast, render web pages well, are more secure than ever (except maybe Internet Explorer, but even Microsoft is leaving the past behind with the new Spartan browser project), and have plenty of users.
What’s new among browsers? Not much. The folks who started the Opera browser project way back in the day have launched Vivaldi, a new development effort with promise; lean on features, high on speed.
Most browser development other than Microsoft’s efforts is funded, oddly enough by Google. That’s the case for Safari, Firefox and others. When Google is the default search engine on popular browsers, Google makes money and shares proceeds with the browser maker.
That may explain why Apple has yet to throw Google to the curb of discarded search engines. Yahoo! and Microsoft would love to have Apple’s search engine business. Do the math. 75-million Macs, 200-million iPads, 500-million iPhones, and most of them run Safari as the default browser.
Regardless of which browser you use on which device, browsing the web has never been better, but in the new age where applications rule, traditional browsing is beginning to take a backseat to individualized searches, courtesy of apps. On my Mac I use the basic browsers– Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and occasionally Opera. On my iPhone and iPad Safari rules, and most search engine revenue comes from searches conducted on traditional browsers on notebooks and desktops. Is it any wonder that Google has Chrome available on every major platform?