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Apple is finally allowing browsers, like those shown here, on the iPhone. Wondering why you've never heard of any of them? Apple is only allowing third party browsers based on its Safari webkit, which means no Firefox, Opera, or Chrome.
Apple opens gate to independent software companies to publish browsers with a significant catch

Since the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch debuted, it has been a runaway hit selling millions of apps and spawning an entirely new software industry.  However, Apple has developed a reputation over the course of last year as a bit of a dictator when it comes to the app store.  Apple was quick to shoot down any applications which it found offensive or which it felt might interfere with its own apps.  That meant competitive internet browsers or music players were less than welcome at the store.

When it comes to internet browsers, Apple has announced that it will finally be relenting, but only somewhat.  Apple is dropping its "duplication of functionality" clause, and as of yesterday has began to approve several "new" browsers that had been gathering dust the last couple months.

The catch -- and it’s a big one -- is that all the browsers it’s approving are based on Apple’s Safari.  For those expecting Firefox, Chrome, or Opera, you are in for a disappointment.

Meet Apple's new browsers:  there's the "Edge" browser, which is a plainer looking browser without Safari's chrome, there's the privacy inclined "Incognito", there's the vibration-countering "Shaking Web", and there's an enhanced tab browser "WebMate".  The apps are all built, though, on Safari's WebKit and are thus Apple-powered.

While it might seem like the new browsers are akin to Safari extensions, unlike extensions, they're considered fully fledged apps.  And that means you can only run one at a time.  Really, the new browsers aren't even that new in a sense as the NYT, AP, and USA Today apps all used the Safari WebKit to improve their functionality.

The only difference is that the change opens the door to new products which could, in a respect replace Apple's base product, the Safari browser.  While Apple will likely get a slice of the revenue if one of them takes off, it will be a smaller slice, and it will have less control. 

With many users reporting the stock Safari to be buggy and glitch-prone, the idea of independent developers being able to improve it, a la Firefox, is a welcome one to many.  Additionally, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before Firefox, Opera and others are fully allowed.  However, Apple is known to keep its users hoping in vain, so that's by no means a sure bet.



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How so?
By omnicronx on 1/14/2009 10:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
While Apple will likely get a slice of the revenue if one of them takes off, it will be a smaller slice, and it will have less control.
I just don't see how this makes sense. Safari is not a download, it comes with the iphone, thus any other browser that is bought through the Apple store is extra income for Apple.

In fact they will probably welcome it, not to mention I am pretty sure the GPL license will apply here, including sharing useful code changes back with Apple, which could give Apple the ability to use code changes of other browsers based on WEBKIT without having to pay anything.




RE: How so?
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
But like desktop browsers, couldn't they just make it free? Then there is no slice of the pie for Apple to take, especially for something that should be free anyway (or at least the one included shouldn't be so buggy).


RE: How so?
By omnicronx on 1/14/2009 10:56:30 AM , Rating: 3
Unless you unlock your phone, installing programs on the iPhone is pretty closed up. The chances that someone is going to develop software for free, instead of taking 70% profits is very slim. Also I really doubt Apple will allow it, why make it free when they could make 30% off of every sale, and take any features/improvements they want to improve their own browser. (remember Apple has to approve everything on their store, they could probably overule the developer even if they wanted to give it away for free)


RE: How so?
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 10:58:54 AM , Rating: 2
The interesting question might be, who gets the Google revenue for each search made using the built-in search bar? Somehow I think it'll be Apple and, if so, these browsers will make absolutely no difference to Apple's income. On the contrary, they may actually increase it if the application has a fee since Apple will receive 30% of the fee on top of the search revenue.


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