Mozilla CEO’s Apple Safari Tirade

From the we’re holier than thou files:

What is behind Mozilla CEO John Lilly’s anti Apple Safari tirade?

The blog based tirade alleges that Apple was somehow unethical in its distribution of the new Safari 3.1 browser. The basis of the allegation stems from the fact that anyone with the Apple Updater on Windows (and that includes millions of iTunes users) automatically got a notice to update Safari 3.1, even if they never had installed Safari before.

Personally though I’m not a fan of that kind of practice, it’s unfortunately very common.
Think about all the different sites and tools that you use that have prompted you to download the Google Toolbar for example (often with the checkbox to install the Google Toolbar already selected).

So why did Lilly decide to go after Apple? Why hasn’t he gone after Google or others who do the same thing?

Well in the case of Google which provides the bulk of Mozilla’s revenues (and thus Lilly’s salary as well), accosting Google would be biting the hand that feeds them.

Maybe Lilly is afraid of Safari. Maybe he’s afraid that it’s actually not a bad browser and that Safari is a real potential threat to Mozilla Firefox’s challenge to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Safari includes speed and HTML 5 type features not currently available in the generally available Firefox 2.x release. Safari is also based on WebKit which is gaining popularity as the mobile browser platform of choice. Of course iTunes is wildly popular so maybe the fear is that if a user likes iTunes (and their iPod) they may be inclined to like Safari as well.

No it is not ideal to have a piece of software listed on an update screen that you’ve never installed. It is however a good marketing ploy by Apple and Apple sure is a saavy marketer. Perhaps Mozilla should take a page from the Apple playbook and suggest that Firefox users look at Thunderbird too (it might make for a whole lot more Thunderbird downloads).

Until the day comes (if ever) when a unified updater for all the different types of software from all the different vendors is available, vendor specific updater programs will continue and vendor suggestions for cross marketing (and other products) is likely to continue.

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