San Francisco: Apple Inc. launched a version of its Safari Web browser for Windows-based PCs, adding yet another tentacle to its multi-pronged encroachment of Microsoft Corp.’s turf.
“Safari is another Trojan horse that introduces an innovation of Apple to the Windows community and entices them to the Mac platform,” said Tim Bajarin, an industry analyst at Creative Strategies, a technology consultancy.
The free program is the latest move by Apple to expand its reach beyond its Macintosh computers and, at the same time, attract new converts to its products. The upcoming iPhone seeks to be another draw.
Previously, Apple made its iPod media player and iTunes store compatible with Windows, introducing Apple’s touch to millions of Microsoft Windows users who don’t own a Mac.
The slickness of its gadget designs notwithstanding, the key to Apple’s success and reputation for ease of use is its software and how well it integrates with its hardware.
“There are a lot of connections between our products and here’s one more,” Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said of the Windows-version of Safari in an interview. “And the more people who like our applications, the more it might mean they’ll buy other products from us.”
The strategy is apparently paying off. Mac sales have grown significantly over the past two years, pushing its slice of the PC market in the United States from 3.5% in 2004 to 4.9% in 2006, according to IDC, a market research firm.
About half of the Macs sold today in Apple’s retail stores are taken by people new to the Mac platform. If Safari wins over more users of Windows-based machines, the iPhone _ a hybrid cell phone, iPod and wireless Web-enabled mobile device _ could also ultimately become more appealing.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced on 11 June the iPhone will run a full version of Safari, essentially guaranteeing developers that any Web-based applications they build for Safari would also be accessible and compatible with the highly anticipated mobile gadget.
“What we’ve got here is the most innovative browser in the world and the most powerful browser in the world,” Jobs said during his keynote speech at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Safari, which was released a few years ago for Apple’s Macintosh computers, has captured about 5% of the world’s market share for Internet browsers with more than 18 million users, Jobs said.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the predominant browser with a 78% share, while Mozilla’s Firefox has rapidly climbed to gain about 15% of the market, he said. Jobs claimed Safari performs twice as fast as its competitors.
Never shy about throwing jabs at his rival in Redmond, Wash., the iconic executive drew hoots and laughter as he kicked off the Cupertino-based company’s developer conference with a new video patterned after Apple’s “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials.
The event in San Francisco, which drew more than 5,000 developers, focused mainly on the next upgrade to the Mac OS X operating system, dubbed Leopard. The upgrade is set to released in October for $129 (Rs5,256).
The new video featured the PC character pretending to be Jobs. Dressed in Jobs’ typical jeans-and-black mock turtle neck outfit, the character said he was quitting because Leopard was getting lost amid the “tens of dozens” of copies sold of Microsoft’s Vista operating system upgrade.
But investors seemed less than enthralled with Apple’s announcements on 11 June , sending shares of Apple down by about 3.5%, or $4.30, to $120.19 on 11 June.
Anticipation of the iPhone, due to its rising sale on 29 June, has driven Apple’s stock price to record highs in recent weeks. It soared to an all-time trading high of $127.61 last week after an analyst report predicted 45 million iPhones would be sold in 2009.
But other than promoting how developers could introduce Web-based programs to the iPhone through Safari, Jobs gave little other new information about the iPhone’s features.
Jobs presented many of the same features in Leopard that he had previewed at last year’s Apple developers conference, but did reveal a few new ones.
Those included: a new desktop look, blades of green grass instead of a blue background; an advanced method of finding files on your computer or others machines on your computing network; “Stacks,” a new way of organizing and managing the folders on your desktop; and the ability to share videos, photos or other documents in an Apple iChat video-conferencing session.
Jobs also put an end to speculation that Leopard would integrate a kind of “virtualization” feature that would allow users to simultaneously run Windows and Mac applications. Instead, Leopard will feature, as previously announced, “Boot Camp,” which lets users of Apple’s new generation of Intel-based Macs install a copy of Windows on their machines. The feature lets users run either the Windows or Mac platform, but not at the same time.
Analyst Shaw Wu at American Technology Research called Apple’s news Monday “underwhelming.”
“The announcements were more around user-interface changes rather than something more radical, like running Windows natively instead of through Boot Camp,” Wu said. “So I think that was disappointing and investors were hoping for more.”