Apple Safari Marks its 10th Birthday as Part of a Much Wider Web
While most of us think of the web browser landscape as a fierce battle between Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, the situation was very different a decade ago. Internet Explorer still dominated the market, Firefox’s precursor Phoenix was months away and Chrome wasn’t even a twinkle in Google’s eye. That makes today’s 10th anniversary of Apple’s Safari a significant milestone: the public beta released on January 7th, 2003 represented the first major new competitor to Internet Explorer in years, especially for the initial Mac users who hadn’t seen many alternatives. The desktop browser has just a small slice of the market today, but it arguably played an important part in shaping the current market. Safari launched the first practical instance of the now-ubiquitous, KHTML-based WebKit rendering engine that made iOS stand out in 2007 and whose variants power some competing browsers, including Chrome.
As project originator Don Melton notes, however, Safari came close to having a different name at one stage. Among other suggestions, the late Steve Jobs was intrigued by the name “Freedom” and spent substantial time exploring its prospects before dropping it and ultimately settling on the Safari label. Such naming debates are common in technology, but they show just how important it was for Apple to make a good first impression; given that Safari is still in healthy use today, we’d say the deliberation paid off.