Saturday, March 22, 2008

Apple Pushes Safari Via iTunes Update

Can't get market share the good old-fashioned way? How about sneaking your browser onto systems, then?

Since Apple released the 3.1 version of its Safari browser on Tuesday, it's been offering Safari via its Apple Software Update applet. That's not really a big deal. What is a little more of a big deal is that it's offering it as an "update" even to those users who never had Safari installed.

Apple's been trailing badly in browser market share, with Microsoft's IE still owning 74.9% of the market, Firefox with 17.3%, and Safari with 5.7%, according to Net Applications' market share report for February.

Mozilla CEO John Lilly took the opportunity to rail on Apple, saying in a blog post:
What Apple is doing now with their Apple Software Update on Windows is wrong. It undermines the trust relationship great companie have with their customers, and that’s bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web.

There’s an implicit trust relationship between software makers and customers in this regard: as a software maker we promise to do our very best to keep users safe and will provide the quickest updates possible, with absolutely no other agenda. And when the user trusts the software maker, they’ll generally go ahead and install the patch, keeping themselves and everyone else safe.

The problem here is that it lists Safari for getting an update — and has the “Install” box checked by default — even if you haven’t ever installed Safari on your PC.
I agree, but I'll also add that this is precisely the reason that I always make sure I am careful when installing updates or even a new package. In fact, I usually go with the "advanced options"
when installing something, and ask for the "complete" install, so I can see everything that's being installed (well, hopefully, unless it installs some sort of stealth copy-protection or something).

For example, when I updated my Jave Runtime Environment today, it asked to install the Google Toolbar. Well, I don't want the Google Toolbar. Some people might just install everything without first checking, and that's the whole problem with Apple's stance on this.

Additionally, since everyone who has iTunes installed will also have this update applet installed, you can see that Apple has quite a large "captive" audience, susceptible to its "offering."

I'll say this: if this doesn't hurt Apple's pristine good-guy, anti-corporate image, I don't know what will.

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