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Safari at 10: lasting impact on Apple's success

Dan Moren | Jan. 11, 2013
I remember all too well the Browser Wars: Broken plugins on fire off the shoulder of Orion. CSS selectors glittering in the dark near the box model. The screams as people met their demi--OK, nobody met their demise.

Arguably more importantly, WebKit also made the jump to the mobile side of the fence with iOS, where it is the cornerstone of mobile Safari, as well as integral to many first- and third-party apps. In fact, WebKit is the only rendering engine that runs on iOS (without a jailbreak, anyway). Pretty much any time you've looked at a webpage on your iPhone or iPad device, you're using WebKit.

And that's just in Apple's neck of the woods. As open source software, WebKit's wended its way into browsers and software on a variety of popular (and less popular) platforms. Google Chrome is based on WebKit, as is Android's browser. Even the browsers on the PlayStation 3 and the Kindle e-reader use WebKit at their cores.

While Apple's mobile devices have become immensely popular among consumers, its Web browsing technologies have likewise found purchase from developers of all kinds, saving programmers from having to reinvent the wheel. And along the way, WebKit has become more and more standard--depending on which statistics you believe, browsers based on WebKit are either poised to overtake Internet Explorer as the market share leader or they already have.

Pax browsera

While I've long left my career as a Web developer behind, my day job still means I spend most of my time in a Web browser. Safari, for all its quirks and caveats, has remained my app of choice for a long while now. I've dallied with Chrome and--I just checked--apparently still have Firefox installed on my system, I guess just in case some catastrophic event disables both Google's and Apple's browsers. Should that day come, I assume I'll have bigger problems to worry about.

One's choice of Web browsers remains an issue of spirited debate to this day, but the surfeit of solid options and increasing cohesion in Web standards has reduced the fervor from days of yore, where disagreements often reached a pitch usually reserved for political discourse or sports team allegiances.

As for Apple, we all know how it's doing these days. Would it have reached the same heights were it not for Safari? Perhaps. But I think we can all agree we're glad not to still be on Internet Explorer 5.2

 

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