Mozilla hits out at Apple's Safari plans

Company's chief operating officer believes Steve Jobs wants to steal Firefox users and create a 'duopoly' with Microsoft

Mozilla's chief operating officer John Lilly has hit out at Apple's Steve Jobs, calling his plans for building Safari's market share "out of date" and "duopolistic".

Lilly made his comments following Jobs' recent keynote at Apple's worldwide developers' conference, where the Mac maker unveiled a version of the Safari browser that is designed to run on Windows Vista or XP.

In the speech predicting how Apple would grow its market share, Jobs showed a slide with Safari dominating almost a quarter of the market — a market only shared with a single other browser, Internet Explorer.

Lilly doesn't believe this was an omission or simplification, but instead an indication that Jobs is hoping to steal the users of Firefox and other smaller browsers in order to run a "duopoly" with Redmond.

Lilly believes this is an indication that Jobs is hoping to steal the users of Firefox and other smaller browsers in order to run a "duopoly" with Redmond.

"This world view that Steve gave a glimpse into betrays [Apple's] thinking: it's out-of-date, corporate-controlled, duopoly-oriented, not-the-web thinking. And it's not good for the web. Which is sort of moot, I think, because I don't think this two-party world will really come to be," he said in his blog.

A browser market split exclusively between two companies is the "wrong thing to do" and would cause a dip in end-user experience, as well as ruining participation and engagement, the Mozilla Foundation exec said.

Yet Lilly went on to welcome the latest addition to the browser market, saying: "Another browser being available to more people is good. I'm glad that Safari will be another option for users... We've never ever at Mozilla said that we care about Firefox market share at the expense of our more important goal: to keep the web open and a public resource. The web belongs to people, not companies."

Lilly, however, cast doubt on whether Jobs' two-browser state would come to pass, saying the rise of Wikipedia and Linux suggests users are no longer content with "the monopolies and duopolies and cartels of yesterday's distribution" led by the big software vendors.

Since Safari for Windows debuted last Monday, it has gone on to notch up one million downloads. It has also seen a number of security vulnerabilities unearthed resulting in three patches being issued by Apple.

Some readers of Lilly's blog believe Jobs' keynote shows the Mac maker is reluctant to challenge Microsoft. One reader, Iam, wrote: "The Mac's survival is still in some ways linked to MS Office running on the Mac. You may argue that Parallels and Boot Camp change this, but we must all agree, much of the world lives in Office. If Jobs had shown the second graph with significant Safari market share at the expense of IE, it would be an outright declaration of war against Microsoft."

Another, Zach A, added: "Let me suggest that perhaps the reason Jobs didn't announce going after Microsoft market share is because of the relationship between the two companies. Maybe, just maybe, Jobs isn't trying to destroy Mozilla, but is instead trying to keep minimal tension with Microsoft."