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Monday, August 15, 2005

What Can Google Learn From Netscape's Downfall?

It's been 10 years since the initial public offering of ill-fated Internet pioneer Netscape Communications, and the often-told story of its rise and fall has inspired inevitable comparisons to the industry's current darling, Google.

Like Netscape, Google had a wildly successful IPO, created a mainstream technology for optimizing Internet use and, as a result, has Microsoft gunning for them in the same way it went for Netscape's jugular.

And though the Internet landscape today is vastly different than the one that Netscape forged a decade ago, Google could learn a thing or two about how to do battle with the software giant in the coming years by taking a look back at the browser pioneer's defeat.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has made no bones about the software giant's quest to squash Google the way it buried Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen's baby in the 1990s. After the Netscape Navigator browser introduced millions of users to the Internet, Microsoft one-upped Netscape by integrating its Internet Explorer browser into its Windows operating system (OS), forcing the browser startup to scramble for a new business model. Eventually, America Online bought Netscape, and the Netscape browser technology now resides in the Mozilla Foundation project as the open-source Firefox browser, which, ironically enough, is making a comeback of sorts against Microsoft Internet Explorer.

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