What a Free NetNewsWire Means

Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis has an insightful essay regarding NetNewsWire’s release as freeware:

If competing with a popular, well-designed product is tough, competing with a popular, well-designed product that happens to be free (while remaining fully-funded) is damned near impossible. And that’s unfortunate, because ultimately, it’s likely to lead to stagnation. The developers at NewsGator have done great work, but the more minds there are attacking a problem in different ways, the more great solutions we see. Look no further than the late nineties, when IE effectively killed Netscape. Web browsers stagnated shortly thereafter - Microsoft, with browser share at or above 90%, had little incentive to innovate, and smaller players just couldn’t break in.

Paul acknowledges in a footnote that, after years of stagnation, the browser market has experienced a resurgence of innovation with Firefox and Safari. But it’s worth considering that both were funded by billion-dollar companies (AOL and Apple), and even now that the Mozilla Foundation is independent, they’re making money from Firefox through search referral revenue.

On the other hand, NetNewsWire, even though free, is not bundled with any OS, let alone the dominant monopoly OS, so comparisons to IE aren’t perfect.

Thursday, 10 January 2008