Sunday, July 20, 2008

Netscape Has Died under the "Big Wheel" of History

AOL made an announcement on the official end of the Netscape browsers, on the 1st of March this year.

Whilst this is a somehow sobbing news to me as I have been a long-time supporter of the Netscape Browser (and their "Composer" as well) since the birth of their first browser Netscape 1.0 in 1994, which was indeed a big innovation or could be considered as a somewhat ground-breaking invention when the "http" was born.

In the past, Internet users accessed to the Internet solely with Unix platforms and machines and thus so did the software applications used. At that time, every users needed to learn and know some basic Unix commands to carry the tasks they wanted and remembered the commands for common protocols or application programs such as those for emails, ftp, reading newsgroups/Gopher directories, IRC (subsequently killed by the ICQ and now the Netmeeting or Yahoo messenger etc.) and so on.

However, by facing the injustice competition by the Microsoft over the years and some other reasons (which I'll state below), Netscape has been bitten more and more for their market share for web browsers. The loss of market is not solely owing to the threats imposed by the MS, but also the repeated mistakes taken by Netscape themselves. As I downloaded each of their new releases for the Netscape browsers and tried/used them, I knew very well about their browsers that the latter versions had been full of bugs and they were less and less reliable and were unstable. Sometimes, even the setup procedures were troublesome and the setup programs were written in an unthoughtful way (maybe the beta testings were not done so completely). In fact, I have been felt that Netscape had never been able to think how to make an easier-to-use piece of software so as o upkeep with the IE but yet had all the powerful and most updated features without sacrifying stability and compatibility - that was what Mozilla and Firefox have been able to do and succeeded finally, but just in recent years.

If Netscape could do some kind of revolution, which is clear-cut and effective but not too late, they would not have an end story like that now. Fortunately, it passes all the good stuff to Firefox before it dies and the Firefox does inherit most of the good stuff whereas most of the instability and unexplainable bugs and annoyances have been removed and the user interface is greatly simplified and it is straight forward and easy to use for most users whereas powerful and new innovative features are continue to be introduced. In fact, the Firefox looks prettier and smarter than the later versions of Netscape also. So, I think the Firefox team must have put a lot of efforts on their new browsers.

So, this story yet again shows us a good lesson: If one reacts and reforms too late, one will be killed under the "Big Wheel" of History, where the incapable candidates would only be thrown to the downstream and disappeared. Revolution and Innovation should not be late, and of course could not be TOO late. And, long lasting issues which users hate should be got rid of soonest.

I see this story applies very well to the case of Pentax. I hope Hoya could do a good reform to Pentax very soon but not *too late*, hopefully like what AOL have succeeded for the Mozilla foundation, but yet not killing Pentax like what they have done for the Netscape.


Anonymous said...

Boy, you are stretching here as usual.AOL bought Netscape Mozilla/Firefox were open liscense software. It was AOL that killed Netscape... w/ bloatware/ads ect while the mean lean open standard Firefox just got better. If anything your twisted analogy should point to a negative for Hoya/Pentax... big corp buys good product (of course we all know how you feel abot this).. makes it bad.
Your logic is just getting worse and worse.....

Anonymous said...

Netscape has been crap for years. Pentax still continues to innovate. There is no comparison.

RiceHigh said...

I'm afraid Netscape is far more innovative than Pentax, frankly. In fact, Firefox was built mostly based on Netscape core, and undoubtedly Firefox is a good piece of software.

However, both companies are suffered from the same problem - lack of a true and effective revolution/reform to make better products which have those most annoying issues and bugs removed, and, more stable and reliable new released products too.

Anonymous said...

And IE has no issues and bugs?
Please get real (oh I forgot, that is not in your vocabulary)
For years, Internet Explorer lagged far behind the competition in both features and security, but the October launch of IE7, a fairly radical overhaul of the aged browser, has brought it up to par with the rest. Almost simultaneously, Mozilla released Firefox 2.0,

RiceHigh said...

I normally do not use IE, unless the website or the application on the website can only be viewed properly and/or can only be executed with IE.

I used the Netscape for more than twelve years before I finally switched to the Firefox which is far more stable, running faster and streamlined for the interface and operations but yet keep the good old stuff/core of the Netscape - so, that's why a reform and true revolution is crucial.

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