"Safari and FireFox,
sittin' in a tree
K I S S I N G
first comes strife,
then comes free publicity,
then comes the open standards based Internet in a baby carriage!"
What Steve Jobs Knows that John Lilly Doesn't
Five years from now, WWDC 2007 will be known as The Stealth Keynote. Lilly's worldview doesn't much encompass reality beyond the web browser on the PC on his desk. Steve's Jobs thinks big. Really, really big. There were other hidden messages in the Apple WWDC 2007 Keynote Address that I'm honestly too fearful to discuss right now. I haven't slept well since I saw the address on the web that night.
Phishing for free publicity? Piss off the open source "community!"
Steve knew exactly how to play John Lilly. Steve cast his line and set the hook like a skilled angler, reeling in Lilly casually, while Lilly thrashed and fought. But why the stealthy coy angler play? Steve is good, really good, at getting what he wants from people, directly. Steve could persuade the FireFox team to come work for Apple, or join forces with Apple, or even pack up and go home with half his brain tied behind his back, but that's not what he wanted.
Steve knows that Safari for Windows will help FireFox in the long run. Safari 3 (for Windows, Macintosh and iPhone) + FireFox 3 + Opera 9 + Nokia's WebKit based browser will result in a free, open standards-based Internet. Steve also knew that he needed two things that would never happen if he just called up the FireFox team and the Opera team and said, "Hey Guys, I have a plan. If we work together, we can crack the internet wide open. We can take it back from Microsoft." Jobs needed:
- Free publicity. Lots of it, to get people to try alternate browsers.
- A fire lit under the fat and lazy FireFox asses. Or fear of iGod. Or Something along these lines, to get the open source browsers to raise the bar for what a browser should be.
John Lilly played right into Steve's hand. He got mad, and he blogged, making sure that his team and his legion supporters would get mad, too, and try to kick Safari butt. (See: A Picture’s Worth 100M Users???). It was quite the rant, really, all on about how Steve Jobs showed a pie chart that revealed his secret plan to kill FireFox. What a boob. And it worked. Steve got free publicity, lots of it and it's still coming. (See: Mozilla exec claims Apple is hunting open source and Browser wars: Mozilla exec calls Steve Jobs 'out-of-date').
Even better, for Apple, the open source browser teams were infused with a new sense of passion that they haven't shown a hint of since the Google ad revenues started flowing into Mozilla corporation. These guys are so mad that they might actually make a reasonable browser for the Macintosh at long last.
The Other Reason Why Apple Created Safari, Way Back When
It's easy to forget, what with the behemoth of Microsoft appearing to dominate everything in the IT world, but it was the incompetence of FireFox and Opera, not merely the abandonware of Internet Explorer on the Macintosh which drove Apple to build its own browser, Safari, to begin with. If FireFox on the Macintosh hadn't sucked, Apple might well have simply bundled it. FireFox would have another 5% of the market today if they hadn't been such
A Small Part of Apple's Secret Plan
Yeah, Steve's pie chart conceals a secret plan, all right, but killing FireFox and Opera is defintely not the plan. I wrote about part of Apple's real secret plan, and I show the pie chart that Jobs hopes to show at WWDC 2008, in my discussion of iPhone, Safari for Windows, and the open, standards-based internet. Here it is again, for your review.
In a nutshell, IE will be the loser, because the total market share of browsers that pass the ACID Test (and thus enforce open standards rather than bug-for-bug compliance with the intentionaly broken Microsoft Internet Explorer) will be too high for web designers to ignore.
Jobs knows this. He also knows it can't happen unless the FireFox team aims higher. They can't just be "FireFox: We're a different browser! We're Free! Try us! Open Source is Cool!" They need to be: "FireFox: We're better than IE, better than Safari, and faster than both."
How can a tiny little open source project like FireFox compete with big mean Apple that wants to kill them, you might ask, in all innocence, after reading John Lilly's blog. Well, they thought they were competing with Microsoft just fine. Unlike most open source projects, FireFox is quite well funded. They make money from all the Google ads that people are shown and click on when they use the built-in search box. The figure I've seen tossed about is that they made $40 million last year. They are a non-profit corporation.
Mozilla (Maker of FireFox) Is A Big, Well Funded, Software Company
Apple doesn't spend very much developing Safari, as far as my moles tell me. By my estimate, based on the surprisingly small Safari team size, the Apple yearly budget for Safari is less than $4 million per year. It might be as little as half that. (This is particularly interesting given the recent Windows port, and the iPhone version of the browser, both developed in the past year or so, alongside, and against the same codebase, as, Safari 3)
The Mozilla Foundation employs about 60 people and raked in over Forty Million Dollars last year (one estimate said it was $52 million, I haven't consulted an authoritative source, but forty to fifty million is the ballpark). Mozilla Foundation probably spends more than Apple on actual development of FireFox, and they are certainly funded to dramatically outspend the Safari team, if they determine that they need additional resources to compete. (If anybody can find a link to the Mozilla Foundation's budget for 2006 or 2007, drop me an email.) FireFox supports additional platforms too, (notably Linux), so it's reasonable to expect the FireFox team to be a little larger.
Apple probably rakes in twenty or thirty million in revenue from Google ads, and Apple makes as much as hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter in profits, but they clearly don't need to spend even the Google ad revenue to make Safari twice as fast as Internet Explorer and almost twice as fast as FireFox on Windows.
This graph unfairly shows an estimate of the actual development budget spent by Apple to develop Safari (all versions) between WWDC 2006 and WWDC 2007, compared with a rough estimate of Mozilla Foundation's income in 2006.
The point is, FireFox is an extremely well funded development project. Mozilla Foundation has financial rescoures that simply are not available to the typical software startup. Mozilla Foundation could easily outspend Apple, and in theory could kick Safari's butt. They only do one of those two things right now. The FireFox development team is a whole lot larger than the Safari team. Somebody is slacking over there, Mr. Lilly.
I hope Ballmer doesn't see this. He might throw a chair, or at least a fit, if he knew how little Apple spends on Safari, and how small the Safari team is.
The Problem With FireFox: No "Fire"
For a non-profit corporation with a single family of closely related products, $40 million is a great deal of money. It's probably ten times the amount that Apple spent on Safari last year, possibly as much as twenty times as much.
Nonetheless, FireFox is slower than Safari, crashes more often, and still doesn't support the KeyChain on Mac OS X. Why not? Why is FireFox so mediocre?
Steve Jobs just lit a fire under FireFox.
In a few years, John Lilly will thank Steve Jobs for saving FireFox from a previously certain decline into irrelevance.
As my empire crumbles. It was all going so well when I handed it over to Ballmer. Sigh.
Even worse, this isn't the only Apple Secret Plan hidden in the WWDC 2007 Keynote. There is a bigger plan, much, much bigger. So big I don't even want to think about it. The End of the World as We Know It big.