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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Monday, June 11, 2007

Safari, Not Leopard, is the Real News at Apple Show

Me, in WinInfo:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs must have smiled knowingly when his announcement about a Windows Web browser got more applause than any of the features he just demonstrated for the next version of Mac OS X. Despite ostensibly dedicating a speech Monday to Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," Jobs had an ulterior motive to show off Apple's real platform for the future. And getting Safari running on Windows is just the first step to realizing that vision.


Despite the amount of time spent discussing Leopard in the keynote, it's clear to me that Leopard is not really the main event at the show, nor is it the primary platform that Apple is really pushing going forward. No, that honor goes to Safari, Apple's Web browser, and its underlying rendering technologies. During the keynote, Jobs made two Safari-related announcements. First, Apple released a beta version of Safari for Windows, and this Web browser product is now available for free download. Jobs claimed that Safari already has about 5 percent market share on the Web, third behind Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla Firefox. But I don't think shipping a Windows version of Safari has anything to do with market share, per se. No, Jobs has something more dramatic in mind for Safari.

That's because Safari now sits at the center of Apple's plan to support third party developers who want to create iPhone-compatible applications. This was the second Safari announcement: Previously, Apple had said that it would not open up the iPhone to developers due to security concerns. But at his WWDC keynote, Jobs revealed that Apple would in fact allow developers to create near-native iPhone applications that run on top of, you guessed it, Safari. These applications will use Web 2.0 technologies like Ajax and will look and feel almost exactly like the native iPhone applications that only Apple is allowed to create.

Now you can see why Apple porting Safari to Windows is so important: Most iPhone developers, like most iPhone users, will be running Windows, and not Mac OS X. And for them to create iPhone applications, they will need a version of the iPhone runtime environment. That environment is Safari. If Apple can get even a small percentage of Windows desktop users and all iPhone users to adopt Safari, it will have created a next-generation Web-based computing platform that is far more compelling, and has a potentially larger user base, than the PC market itself. It's an astonishing strategy. And you read about it here first.
My contention here is simple.

Leopard is not the future. How could it ever be? This isn't good enough to make Windows users switch en masse. No desktop OS could ever make that happen.

No, the future is Safari. First, running on iPhone. Later, running on any number of devices. Traditional and non-computer devices. Remember that the cell phone market is much bigger than the market for desktop PCs. This is big.

And yes, I know it all sounds like a conspiracy theory. But I think that we will all look back on this day as the time when we stopped thinking about desktop OSes and focused on the mobile, Web-based future. This might be the smartest thing Apple ever did. And so far, few have even noticed it. Yet.

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[ Posted at 5:30 PM | Permalink ]


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