Google, Apple, and Firefox
Matt Asay argues that Apple and Google should abandon WebKit, Safari, and Chrome, and instead get behind Firefox:
For this same reason, however, both would do better to invest in Firefox, the “Linux of browsers.” In some ways, the browser efforts of Apple and Google are much like the Unix efforts of IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems: they threaten to splinter the browser counterattack on Microsoft rather than solidify it.
This would be reasonable advice if Apple and Google were in the browser racket primarily to “attack IE”. But they aren’t. They’re simply in it to make as good a browser as they can, to suit their own needs. For Apple, that means top-notch native browsers for the Mac and iPhone (and who knows what other future devices). For Google, that means a top-notch runtime environment for their own web applications.
Apple isn't in the business to make the best products they can - Apple is in the business to make the most money they can. They have DISCOVERED that innovation and quality are some of the building blocks to profits. Companies like ASUS (who some say invented the Netbook category with their EEE PC line) have discovered that low expectations, good enough products, and cheap price are also a key to profits.
Apple took a "why not?" approach to building Safari - who some estimate brings in several million in revenue each year. Safari's built in Google search PAYS Apple - even though the application is provided as free.
Apple, being a software company [in part], put together Safari in such a genius manner - to eventually extend it to be the showcase of other products. Apple knew that the future of applications and of revenue lied within browsers and search engines. Apple partnered with Google out of ease, name recognition, and revenue potential. There is no money in Firefox for Apple.
Furthermore, analyst after analyst continues to make Microsoft Apple's enemy and even Apple's competition - while Apple sees innovation and application of technology as its competitors. It's the timeless Pepsi and Coke debate - Pepsi thinks Coca Cola is it's competition - Coke sees no competition other than thirst craving and brand recognition.
How much revenue does Apple and The Firefox Foundation make from Google Toolbar integration?
From Daring Fireball June 11, 2007:
But the primary reason is simply money. Safari is a free download, but it’s already one of Apple’s most profitable software products.
It’s not widely publicized, but those integrated search bars in web browser toolbars are revenue generators. When you do a Google search from Safari’s toolbar, Google pays Apple a portion of the ad revenue from the resulting page. (Ever notice the “client=safari” string in the URL query?)
The same goes for Mozilla (and, I presume, just about every other mainstream browser.) According to this report by Ryan Naraine, for example, the Mozilla Foundation earned over $50 million in search engine ad revenue in 2005, mostly from Google.
My somewhat-informed understanding is that Apple is currently generating about $2 million per month from Safari’s Google integration. That’s $25 million per year. If Safari for Windows is even moderately successful, it’s easy to see how that might grow to $100 million per year or more.