AOL was one of the first companies to help get people online
and one of its largest acquisitions was of Netscape Communications Corporation
At one point, Netscape held around 90% of the browser
market. Market share numbers show that Netscape currently has a mere
0.60% of the browser market. The industry leader is Microsoft with its
Internet Explorer holding 77.35% of the browser market share.
When AOL bought Netscape, the process of converting Netscape
Communicator into an open source application called Mozilla had already begun.
According to The Netscape Blog,
internal teams within AOL have invested time and energy into reviving
Netscape Navigator but have been unable to gain any traction. Support for
Netscape Navigator was limited within AOL to a “handful” of engineers who were
tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions.
The demise of Netscape Navigator is blamed on AOL’s
transition to an ad-supported web business leaving little money for the
investment required to get Netscape to the point where it is expected to be by
its fans and AOL.
AOL says that support for the current version of Netscape
Navigator will end on February 1, 2008 and after that date there will be no
active product support. Fans of Netscape communicator are encouraged to
download Mozilla Firefox and use the Netscape extensions which will provide the
same look and feel Netscape Navigator users are accustomed to. While the
Netscape Navigator browser will no longer be supported, the Netscape.com portal
will continue to operate.
AOL has gone from one of the most popular Internet service
providers at the dawn of the Internet age to a has-been in recent years. In
October of 2007 AOL laid off 20% of its workforce in attempts to stave the
cash loss from the mass exodus of its subscribers.
AOL was also rocked by scandal in August of 2006 when
it released the search histories of 650,000 users without
permission -- a mistake many see as one of the first nails in the AOL
quote: Oh yeah, broke college student. Sighs.