Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser is establishing a solid lead over Netscape’s Navigator, but just what that means depends on who you ask. Palo Alto web advertising provider AdKnowledge issued a perky statement noting that while Navigator’s market share has declined 8.9% to 52.2% over the last six months, IE has gained 9.6% to 45.6% over […]
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser is establishing a solid lead over Netscape’s Navigator, but just what that means depends on who you ask. Palo Alto web advertising provider AdKnowledge issued a perky statement noting that while Navigator’s market share has declined 8.9% to 52.2% over the last six months, IE has gained 9.6% to 45.6% over the same period. The data was derived from a sample of 10 million ads distributed through AdKNowledge’s SmartBanner across 1000 sites. Meanwhile in another survey, this one from San Francisco non- profit NetAction, goes some way towards explaining Microsoft’s browser marketing success. NetAction discovered that the four largest retail ISPs with a combined user base of 20 million customers distribute only IE to their clients. A number of ISPs that offered Navigator as an option one year ago have dropped the Netscape software. Many ISPs deny technical support to customers who install Navigator or other non-IE browsers. NetAction concludes that in spite of the DoJ investigation set for September, the bundling of IE with Windows 98 is already encouraging ISPs to offer only IE. Microsoft is ubiquitous for most consumers, says NetAction’s Nathan Newman. The browser market is a bit of an oxymoron, in fact. You’ve got this big competition going on where both major competitors are giving the software away. Now as neither Netscape nor Microsoft are philanthropists, you’ve got to look at their business model. Whoever controls the browser decides what kind of audio, video, multimedia, database and graphics servers run on the back end. Since Microsoft owns software in all those classes, Newman argues that the company has a strong interest in controlling how that data is viewed. Once the cutting-edge features are defined by who owns the browser, there’s a loss to consumers just on the basis of the technology that could have been, he contends, we say it’s the consumers who should get to decide what technology gets adopted. Microsoft says it’s the business to business marketplace. But the interests there are not the interests of consumers. It could be argued that NetAction’s interests are not necessarily the interests of consumers. Hewlett-Packard Co is a large sponsor. Newman acknowledges the point. As soon as we can survive without the people who admittedly have self-interest involved I for one will be delighted, he says, but if it’s a question of selling out, hey, I work for non-profit wages. There are a lot more lucrative ways to sell out.