Mozilla's Asa Dotzler, in attempting to visualize the Web's user growth since 1996, gives two startling suggestions, neither of which will endear him to the Microsoft Internet Explorer crowd:
- The Web has about doubled in size since Safari and Firefox came on the scene, and since that time, Firefox has captured almost half of that growth;
- The Web is still growing really, really fast. (This visualization) demonstrates how quickly a dominant player can fall, not from users switching, but from growth alone. This is part of what makes Microsoft's desktop monopoly and its lock on the PC (manufacturing) channel so dangerous and potent a weapon. Even if they don't get people to switch, just owning the first experience is worth about 100 million new users a year.
This is what that looks like:
The browser war is heating up, with IE steadily losing market share to Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome, and the stakes are huge. If Dotzler is right, and that first Web experience sticks with 100 million new users each year, ensuring that those new users have a real, open choice is critical.
This is why Mozilla is fighting hard in the European Union to ensure that Microsoft doesn't get to use its desktop hegemony to cement a browser monopoly that could threaten to paralyze the Web for decades. It's why we should want the world's first experience with a Web browser to be an open one: open source, open standards, open Web.
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