A funny thing happened in the browser wars. A young upstart came from nowhere to capture a goodly percentage of the market.
This is old news, of course. It happened a few years ago when Firefox hit a market where no market was actually seen.
Internet Explorer had crushed Netscape and that seemed the end of that. A browser was a browser was a browser, the thinking seemed to go.
Sure, lawsuits against Microsoft alleged monopolies and unfair bundling practices but most people — say like, the 90-some-odd percent of people who used IE — didn’t really give it a second thought.
Their premise was simple: keep it simple, keep it light, and as an open source project, developers from around the world worked to keep it just that.
Skeptics snickered though when the Mozilla Foundation kept delaying a 1.0 release. But when they finally did, the browser took off.
It was the lean, mean, anti-IE machine and has a couple hundred million downloads under its belt now.
“It’s fast, secure, open source – and super popular,” the magazine gushed. “The hot new browser called Firefox is rocking the software world. (Watch your back, Bill Gates.)”
Amazing to think that was only two years ago. And in a day and age of open source, open API’s and mashups of all sorts, Firefox can be seen as the first commercially accepted application of its kind. It looked good and played well. It didn’t look like it was by geeks, for geeks, but instead, by geeks for the rest of us.
When Netscape folded, Eich helped form the Mozilla Foundation from which Firefox was hatched, and from there became CTO of the Mozilla Corporation.
“I feel kind of like George Lucas,” Eich says in the video above. “I did something 11 years ago that got out of the lab. It was a monkey on my back for a while and then I went to found Mozilla.org, and did something different for a while, and now it’s huge.”
And, of course, some thoughts about what this might all mean for the future of the Web.