I was looking through various online newsletters this morning and noticed a small item that said that AOL would no longer support the Netscape browser. Not a big story, of course but symbolic. There was a time when Netscape had ambitions to take on Microsoft. I’m adding a link here to a blog I wrote back in 2005 about this topic. But it took a few more years before the real upstart showed up to do to Microsoft what the Netscape team thought they could do — challenge Microsoft on the desktop.
Later Netscape was purchased by AOL and in 2000, AOL merged with Time Warner. The irony is interesting. The idea at that time was that AOL, Netscape, and Time Warner would combine to create a media juggernaut. Again, the germ of the idea was right — the timing and the players were wrong.
Now this got me thinking about Google and the fact that the purchase of DoubleClick was approved. I was reading an interesting column by Clint Bolton who writes the GoogleWatch blog for EWeek. Basically, Clint talks about the arguments that Microsoft makes to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about why Google’s purchase of DoubleClick would hurt the competitive environment. It is indeed an interesting situation to see Microsoft worry about the market power of Google.
It is noteworthy that Google — so far anyway — accomplished with a good deal of finesse what Netscape was never able to do. Netscape took on the giant Microsoft directly. In essence, once Microsoft was directly challenged by Netscape, it was granted permission to be aggressive. Contrast this to Google’s style. Google initially walked softly into the market with a “simple search engine” strategy that has blossomed into a conquer the world strategy. Ironically, Google is much more like a media company than a technology company.