Back in 1995 when I started teaching other journalists how to go online, the start-up kit put together by Kristine Loosely at Concentric Resources included a prehistoric version of the Netscape browser and an equally early version of Eudora. It was rudimentary — and revolutionary. ISP Concentric has long since been subsumed by XO, Eudora halted sales and support of Eudora earlier this year and now comes word that AOL (NYSE: TWX) is following suit for Netscape. The browser that literally launched the web as we know it has been terminal for years, particularly since Netscape shifted to open source as Mozilla/Firefox. (The number of visits from Netscape to our site in recent weeks barely registers as a blip.) Removing the life support was only a matter of time; AOL’s emphasis on advertising made this the right time. Support for Netscape the browser ends Feb. 1. The Netscape brand continues as a “general use internet portal.”
A little history: AOL acquired Netscape from Sun for $4.2 billion in AOL stock in 1999. As CNET reported back then, AOL’s first real blow against Netscape came in 1996 when it made IE its default browser.
Tom Drapeau, Netscape Blog: AOL’s focus on transitioning to an ad-supported web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be. Given AOL’s current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reigns fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox.”