Sunday, December 30, 2007
As you already know, AOL has decided to give up support for Netscape Navigator. I hate to recognize that, but I feel sad about it. You know, Sun became the hottest company in the .com days thanks to Netscape, as they could be considered the starters of the Internet fever (and bubble...). What memories I have from those exciting days, where you could open up a box of Cheerios and bang, an Enterprise E10K could be awarded to the lucky child about to have breakfast. And in a great part, thanks to the popularity Internet acquired those days, when everybody thought that the world would move all the business to Internet immediately (even Al Gore thought that!), we are what we are now.
I guess that is the reason why we reached that deal with AOL to build the iPlanet brand. You know, AOL didn't really want a software company, they only were interested in the millions of users of Netscape.com, so they never thought they were wasting the $4.2 billion they spent there although we all knew that they didn't want that legion of geeks and programmers. And that days our middleware was just crap, we needed desperate replacement to our Directory Server, Application Server (oh dear, I just remember NetDynamics, and a shiver runs through my back and my neck; that's when our Sales people got accustomed to sell BEA instead of our products, an issue we are still fixing...), Mail Server, etc., so it was a natural deal: they'd split the company, giving us the software factory and keeping the final users for them, to feed them up with contents, their real business.
But then, you know, there was such a stubborn VP from AOL-Netscape, and that other much more stubborn VP from our side (I don't recall very well the story as I never was very interested in software, what is important in Sun is the tons of iron we sell), so in 2002 we definitively splitted it up, retaining the code for ourselves to keep up the development of the products. Of course, we killed most of them (EcExpert, BuyerExpert, Certificate Server...); some had to be killed later (MetaDirectory), while others are trying to survive despite our efforts to make them absolutely horrible products (Communications and Mail suite).
I wasn't surprised at all when AOL decided to kill the middleware of Netscape, about six months after we broke our iPlanet deal. As I said, that was not their business.
The funny thing is that the Netscape Navigator was never intended to make big money for Netscape. That mission was to be accomplished by the middleware products, and they did a lot of money (App. Server got about 95% of the market, and you'd be surprised to know how many companies still use NAS 4 -we know that because they sometimes call us for support!!-). The Navigator was just a tool to make people easy to navigate through Internet, until they found that money can be also made from the browser, and big bucks too. But this is a long story. Far are those days where Moz ruled over Microsoft. It is rumored that Microsoft was feared of the ability to execute programs in the browser, independently of the operating system, and that this was the reason why they decided to play hard with their Explorer to kill Netscape's browser (Google, be aware of that, you are offering an office suite that can be used from any browser, does it sound familiar to you? ;-) ).
So, as the initial picture says, Netscape Navigator has finally reached the stability (although there is no beyond): Rest In Peace.