Author Says Browser Battle ‘Winner Take All’

Author David Yoffie Tuesday said Netscape’s arrogance will soon catch up with the company, leaving Microsoft to control the Web browser market just as it dominates the PC operating system sector.

Yoffie co-authored the book Competing on Internet Time: Lessons From Netscape and Its Battle With Microsoft. In an interview Tuesday with InternetNews Radio reporter Brian McWilliams, Yoffie said government intervention is likely the only thing that will keep Netscape Communications Corp.’s Navigator in the running.

“We don’t think they will lose share as rapidly as doomsayers are predicting, however we do believe this is a winner-take-all market and ultimately Microsoft is the victor.

“If the Department of Justice wins the case and has remedies that assure distribution for Netscape, such as requiring Microsoft to carry Navigator on 100 percent of the Windows platform, that would potentially change the perception of momentum and could potentially change the whole battle,” Yoffie said.

Yoffie was quick to say Netscape itself is partially to blame for its reversal of fortune. He said Netscape has exhibited arrogance not only in the browser wars, but also in partnership negotiations–even with industry titans like chip maker Intel Corp.

Yoffie said Intel Chairman Andy Grove tried on several occasions to establish partnerships with Netscape, but the two companies could never reach an agreement.

“Andy came away very frustrated with Netscape–that seemed to be prevalent across a lot of the firms we talked to. Netscape was widely viewed as an arrogant company that didn’t work well with people or partners, that generally thought it could do most things itself and only needed (others) selectively.

“In many cases, Netscape felt people should pay for the privilege of working with them,” Yoffie said.

Microsoft has asked a federal appeals court for tapes of interviews Yoffie and Cusumano conducted for their book. The software giant wants to use the tape as part of its defense in its ongoing antitrust battle with the U.S. Justice Department.

Yoffie said Microsoft wants to play the tapes in court to offset the impact of the DOJ’s deposition of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

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