You may ask: What major role does this old dinosaur play in today’s web business. A big one, I say!
Well, think about it: What piece of software does every webpage have to pass on its way to the viewer? Correct: Your browser. And who decides, how you see the digital world? Again: Your browser.
And when we talk about browsers, there is (still) no way around Microsofts Internet Explorer. Yes, I know, IE lost some feathers in the last years compared to Chrome, Firefox and Safari but don’t forget, that IE still has over 40% global market share. In some countries it is even higher.
For it is the browser that decides, how webpages are rendered and prompted on your screen, it can be a very powerful weapon against competitors.
The battle plan
So for what good (or evil) could Microsoft use this power? Do you know this plugin for Firefox called Adblock that automatically detects and hides any kind of ads? Now imagine the new Internet Explorer comes out with a built-in adblocker that is activated by default.
What would be the impact of this little browser addition? 40% of all Ads would over night turn black!
And now – as a user – be honest: Would you miss the ads? Wouldn’t it be great to surf without all those ads? Would you miss the “special offers” or the disturbing half naked women telling you what to purchase (ok, that was a bad example)?
On the other end of the wire this would be a disaster for all websites that are financed by ads. Before my eyes, I see a refugee-track of online marketing guys and bloggers crossing the land looking for a shelter and some ramen noodles. It’s obvious: No ads, no online marketing!
And of course, when we talk about ad-financed web businesses, there is this big elephant in the room called google
The struggle continuous
How would google react if a major part of their gains went down the toilette? They definitely would try to convince all the surfers out there to switch over to chrome. But let’s be honest here: Would you prefer a browser that shows ads over one that doesn’t?
All together this would mean serious trouble for our dear G-friends.
The white knight arrives
So let’s proceed in our little scenario: How would the site owners react? Technically they could build in a little switch to exclude all IE-Visitors. But – seriously – what website owner wants to be the first? Who would be courageous enough to kick things of? Only one website has the influence and the power to do so: The big one. The biggest. Facebook.
They are the only ones able to break the embargo. For facebook, most of the 800 M users would change their browser.
The lawyers strike back
To be honest, I don’t know much about all this legal stuff behind this. Is it illegal to block content? But two things I’m quite sure of:
First of all it would be much easier for Microsoft to push this thing trough now, than back in the days, where they had the monopole for almost everything pc-related.
Second: I think that it would be much more difficult for website owners like facebook to exclude a specific browser than it would be for a browser to generally block ads of all kind.
What is your opinion on this? Feel free to comment.