Safari for Windows… but WHY?

Steve Jobs & Company must have known that releasing a Safari browser for the Windows platform was going to result in some serious blowback: vulnerabilities, outrage and of course, the mocking. And as expected, the digerati responded with scorn and outrage.

John Lilly, COO of Mozilla, didn’t mince any words when he mocked Jobs vision of a Safari-IE duopoly. “Steve asserted Monday that Safari on Windows will overturn history, attract 100M new users, and revert the world to a 2 browser state. That remains to be seen, of course. But don’t bet on it,” he wrote. [digg=http://digg.com/apple/Safari_for_Windows_but_WHY]

However, the big question is why would Apple attempt such a thing?

safariforwindows.jpg

After all, even Mozilla’s Firefox with all the community and developer support, Google dollars and the buzz hasn’t been able to unseat Microsoft from the top of the browser perch.

The “why Safari for Windows” question has been on our minds ever since the announcement was made. There are several theories out there, though none of them quite convincing.

Challenging Microsoft and developing Apple suite of Web Apps are two that are also doing the rounds, though our dotMac experience doesn’t inspire much confidence in Apple’s web app abilities. Some suggest that this could easily add and additional $25-to-$50 million in revenues via a deal with search engine like Google.

Robert Cringley, in his latest migraine inducing and interesting polemic suggests that AT&T is the real reason why Jobs & Co., released Safari. He points out that Jobs wants to sell AT&T not only the iPhone, but also Apple TV as a set-top box and anything the New AT&T wants in order to paper over its lack of bandwidth problems.

Shiny Apple things can help buyers overlook the fact that AT&T is currently behind the faster cable connections when it comes to offering higher speeds, and its 3G network is still a shadow of Verizon and Sprint’s 3G networks. Still it is hard to believe that Ma Bell will let AppleTV cannibalize its multi-billion dollar investments in U-Verse IPTV service. Cringley, however still doesn’t offer a convincing answer to the question:

Why did Apple really release Safari browser for Windows?

My guess is rather simplistic – in fact too simplistic.

Apple is looking for switchers: people who just are fed-up of PCs and want Macs, but are not ready to make the jump because they are not familiar with the UI and the interface. Every time I ask someone why aren’t you switching to a Mac, they show fear of having to relearn everything. What if Apple gives out small doses of Apple experience, slowly trying to overcome their fear of re-learning?

How about this: there are nearly 300 million people who have downloaded the iTunes software and most are running it on their PCs, and not everyone of those millions owns an iPod. Most of them know the Library Browser metaphor (CoverFlow) and the iTunes interface.
Safari for Windows offers gives people a chance to try web browsing. (Apparently a million copies have been downloaded in first 48 hours, so there is interest in this browser.) When the iPhone launches, there is going to be huge crush of curious onlookers who while may not buy an iPhone, are likely to idle over to the Macs and find something familiar, thus making them overcome their fear of switching.

PS: I am sure, my theory won’t make much sense to you all, but I would love to hear your reasons.