New Browser Backed by Netscape Founder
It’s been 15 years since Marc Andreessen developed the Netscape Net browser that introduced millions of men and women to the Net. After its early success, Netscape was generally defeated by Microsoft in the supposed browser wars of the 1990s that ruled the Web’s first chapter.
Now an outstanding Silicon Valley financier, Mr Andreessen is backing a start up called RockMelt, staffed with some of his close associates, that is building a new Net browser, according to folk with understanding of his investment. “We have backed a good team,” Mr Andreessen declared in an interview earlier this summer. But Mr Andreessen recommended the new browser would be different, exclaiming that most other browsers had not kept pace with the development of the Web, which had grown from an array of static website pages into a network of complex internet sites and applications.
“There are all types of things that you would do differently if you’re building a browser from scratch,” Mr Andreessen expounded. RockMelt was founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, both previous managers at Opsware, a corporation that Mr Andreessen founded and then sold to Hewlett-Packard in 2007 for approximately $1.6 bn.. Mr Howes also worked at Netscape with Mr Andreessen. Tiny else is understood about RockMelt, and Mr Vishria was not keen to debate it.
“We are at really first stages of development,” Mr Vishria claimed. “Talking about it at this point is not useful.
After Microsoft defeated Netscape, it controlled more than 90 % of the browser market. Interest in browsers among technology firms faded and creativity ground to a halt.
But in the last 18 months, the web browser has changed into a battlefield again with giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft fighting each other. The replenished interest in browsers is partially a consequence of the success of Mozilla, a charitable organization.
The speedier, safer and more cutting edge Mozilla Firefox browser, introduced in 2004, has grabbed 23 p.c of the market, and Microsoft’s share dropped to 68 %. But the most recent battle was also inspired by a giant shift in computing that is increasingly making the Web, not the Computer , the place where folk engage with complicated computer programmes. Technology giants now see the browser as a control point to what users do online, and they need a say in shaping it.
In the last 18 months, Microsoft and Apple introduced seriously improved versions of their browsers, Net Explorer and Safari. And Google entered the fray last autumn when it released its Chrome browser. Last month, Google claimed it would build an operating system, also called Chrome, with its principal function being to support its browser.
“The days of working in isolation on your PC are often gone,” recounted John Lilly, the Boss man of Mozilla. “Because the Web is becoming so central to what we do, and the browser is the technology that mediates our interaction with the Web, the way the browser works is actually crucial. Mr Andreessen’s backing is sure to make RockMelt the focus of intense attention. For the moment, the company is keeping a lid on its plans.
On the organization’s Web site, the company name and the words “coming soon” are topped by an emblem of the earth, with cracks exposing what appears to be molten lava from the world’s core. Mr Andreessen serves as a director of Facebook. Another browser, Flock, primarily based on Firefox, already incorporates feeds from social networking sites.
But RockMelt isn’t now working with Facebook. “We are not conscious of any details about RockMelt and its product,” recounted Brandee Barker, a Facebook spokesman.
In the interview this summer, Mr Andreessen credited Mozilla with coming up with a commercial model to support internet browsers. The organization has a deal with Google that makes Google the standard index page when folks start Firefox, and sends them to Google when they type something into the search box at the top of the browser.
In 2007, Google paid Mozilla about $75 million for the alliance.
“Browsers today have a great business model,” Mr Andreessen recounted. But gurus say a large challenge for any new net browser may be distribution. Regardless of Google’s heavy promotion of Chrome, the browser has gained just 2 % of the market. “If anyone could do it today, one would imagine Google would be best positioned, and it is plain they have made only meager gains,” said David B Yoffie, a teacher at the Harvard Business College , and the co-writer of “Competing on Net Time : Lessons From Netscape and Its Battle With Microsoft.” Professor Yoffie expounded that targeting the browser at Facebook users might be a good method. “If you can get Facebook’s millions of users to believe that this is a neater way to do what they do on Facebook, that might be a chance to take advantage of,” he revealed.
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