Feeds

Browser innovation is dead – Andreessen

But don't blame me

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Netscape founder Marc Andreessen has taken a potshot at the product that earned him his fortune. The former Illinois student commercialized Tim Berners Lee's web browser first with Mosaic, then took the team with him to found Netscape.

But Andreessen says that "that there hasn't been any innovation on the browser in the last five years" and doesn't see any in the next five years.

"Navigation is an embarrassment. Using bookmarks and back and forth buttons - we had about eighteen different things we had in mind for the browser," he told an industry audience in London yesterday.

However in this interview, a younger Andreessen explained why.

"Basically we took the minimalist approach, as we did with Mosaic. With the interface we tried to make sure there was a minimal amount of stuff other than the Net-based information itself. It would draw out that information, make it possible for people to focus on that information, and get rid of all the crap that usually clutters applications," he told the Smithsonian Institute's Oral History project in 1995.

Indeed both Mosaic and Netscape browsers separated out (or lost) the authoring functionality that was part of the first CERN web browser, and the simplicity and bookmark management played a huge part in the success of these products.

If today's mass market browsers doesn't showcase much innovation, perhaps that's the mass market doesn't want them, preferring familiarity and simplicity. Or perhaps Andreessen is a secret Internet Explorer user. While IE has added nothing since version 4.0 in 1997 - six years ago - the Opera browser has added a number of usability features, evolving with each release. Or perhaps people make good choices. At large, perhaps it's because the web is no longer seen as anything more than an expensive and often cumbersome tool, and not the epiphany we were led to expect. A means to an end, not the end in itself.

Andreessen left Netscape after its merger with AOL in 1999. Having once derided Windows as a poorly debugged device driver loader, Andreessen this Spring saw Netscape's parent AOL sign a seven year deal with Microsoft for the right to continue using Internet Explorer as the core of its client software. ®

Related articles

Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape
Internet is dying - Lessig
Opera - Your mother should know
Jakob Nielsen on how Apple blew it, how Linux will blow it, and the Next Big Thing
MSN deliberately breaks Opera, claims Opera

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.