Andreessen: browser is here to stay for another 20 years

Andreessen: browser is here to stay for another 20 years

Web 2.0 Expo took off today with a classic on-the-couch interview. John Battelle from Federated Media Publishing asked Marc Andreessen a couple of questions about his Netscape adventure, the industry landscape and browsers. Andreessen is a famous software engineer and the brains behind Mosaic, the first widely-used web browser, and co-founder of Netscape. When building what turned out the foundation of the Internet – the browser – he and his team didn’t expect the future of the browser would look so bright.

Marc Andreessen talks about browsers“It’s far better than anybody thought. Many of the early ideas have lasted – like javascript -, which has been amazing. Cookies for example, we made that up during a weekend. When we tried to figure out how we could check whether a visitor had visited the website before, we asked “What about this cookie thing?”. And after a couple of years it became popular and caused discussion whether they’re a big threat to user privacy or not. It was a very rapid implementation of something that lasted really long.”

Andreessen continued with giving some examples, and I have one absolute favorite: the back and forward button. Andreessen: “We just needed something to navigate with and created these two buttons. We expected somebody would figure out something better later. But now everybody uses it, it’s even integrated in applications like iTunes and Mac OSx.”

Generally, Andreessen said that creating the browser was a half-way step. “However, the persistence of the browser has been amazing. For now, there’s no incentive to create a service that is not accessible through a browser, as you’ll take a big chunk out of your possible audience. (..) There’s a whole generation of kids communicating through browsers with services like Facebook. I think it will be another fifteen to twenty years before another step is taken”.

Predicting the future of such an innovating industry is quite a bold move. Yet when we take in consideration that early adopters have moved the largest part of their digital life to the browser, there’s all the reason to be excited about Firefox and co. Not feeling it yet? Have a look at the most used software at the statistics page of our sponsor Wakoopa to see the impressive numbers.

Although there’s always the chance we’re all missing something. Like Andreessen said: “The one thing I’ve learned from that hectic period with Netscape, was that big shifts and revolutionary developments are never foreseen, by anybody and everybody”

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