In the middle of the Browser Wars 2.0 between Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox, a new application war appears. But it’s not about browsers. It’s about podcatchers. And it seems that history is repeating itself.
We start off in 1994 in the browser world and 2004 in the podcasting world. At these times there existed Mosaic and iPodder, respectively. Mosaic later changed its name to Netscape because of legal disputes. In the same way, iPodder later changed its name to Juice because of legal disputes concerning the iPod trademarks.
Anyway, in the beginning both iPodder and Netscape were dominant. Everyone used them. Even though the user interfaces weren’t the greatest. I mean, you can’t even listen to podcasts from within iPodder, and to me Netscape’s interface looks really ugly. But who didn’t use iPodder for podcatching, and who didn’t use Netscape for Internet browsing?
Then one day in June 2005, Apple became Microsoft. Just as Internet Explorer usage shot up after Microsoft bundled it into Windows in 1997, so did iTunes usage as a podcatcher shoot up after Apple incorporated podcatching into that program.
Why did this happen? The simple answer for both cases: hardware. Microsoft Windows could be used on the prevalent PC. iTunes was used with the iPod. Bundle IE with the popular Windows, and IE’s share skyrockets. Bundle podcatching with the popular iTunes, and up shoots iTunes usage for podcatching.
Now we’re in 1998 in the browser world, and late 2005 in the podcatching world. Who uses iPodder and Netscape anymore? iTunes and Internet Explorer have taken over.
We arrive at the year 2004 in the browser world and 2006 in the podcatching world. Firefox, a descendant of Netscape, has come on the scene, quickly eating away at Internet Explorer usage share. Now almost everyone’s talking about Firefox, and Microsoft has responded by kicking IE up a notch with the upcoming release of version 7.
But where’s the podcatcher that will become the next Firefox?
As I was thinking about this browser/podcatcher war coincidence, I was surprised at how my plans to build a podcatcher coincided with this repeating history. I was planning to make a podcatcher, which is currently codenamed “Salamander.” Hmm, an animal name, kinda like Firefox and Firebird. I wanted Salamander to be easy to use while having really cool features. Hmm, kinda like Firefox. I wanted Salamander to be the program that would eat away at the usage share of the dominating program (iTunes). Hmm, kinda like Firefox.
Will Salamander become the next Firefox? Time will tell. One little difference, though. Salamander does not have its roots in iPodder, in the way that Firefox has its roots in Netscape.
Oh, and iPodder did not start out as a paid program in the way Netscape did.
But besides those things and few other small differences, the history of 10 years ago has indeed repeated itself. And it just might continue to do so.