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article imageOp-Ed: Safari 4, the Cinderella browser, comes to the marketing ball

By Paul Wallis     Feb 25, 2009 in Technology
Marketing is a strange business. Markets loathe what they loathe. The word not used about Safari was “good looking.” It was a drab grey thing, nondescript, and up against tough competition in terms of performance. Now, Cinderella has found a script.
As the world tries to escape Internet Exploiter, it matters.
Safari 4 has learned a bit about presentation. It’s also trying to get some results from a public beta launch. To say Apple are spruiking is an understatement. There are 150, count them, new features, and Apple are sounding pretty pleased with themselves.
Apparently this isn’t all pure hype. Comparisons with other brands by Apple may or may not be expedient, but the obvious emphasis is on being competitive, for once. Apple’s normal boutique approach is missing, and the Macworld comparisons with Firefox and IE 7 aren’t particularly subtle. According to Apple, Safari 4 is 3 times faster than Firefox 3, and 30 times faster than IE7. Chrome is the only one in the same range. IE8 Beta apparently likes to linger…
The sort of information you would make a point of telling people, in fact, if finally for once you felt like not acting like a coy niche market product range. Just think, anytime now, Apple might think of trying to be a real competitor with Microsoft, not just the PC/Mac differential.
“The Look” is good, but it will also be familiar to a lot of users who’ve been watching the design of browsers and zooms. Ironically, it’s also now a Windows environment presentation… it “acts like a true Windows native”, according to Macworld. Sounds like some sort of penitence, doesn’t it?
The only place the package is likely to get a groan or so is the browser tabs. Browser tabs are at the top of the screen, in that same monotonous, totally uninteresting grey we’ve all come to ignore. Like Microsoft’s utilitarian blue and white, and Firefox and Chrome’s unambitious color schemes, the general impression is that all browser designers receive spectrum aversion therapy using a color wheel before being allowed to design.
What, I ask you, is wrong with a designer skin for browsers? We’re heading to 15 years of Dishcloth Mode With Blinding White Screens for browser looks.
But Cinders has made it to the ball, despite Godmother’s apparent color blindness.
There’s even a feature for Web developers, and perhaps other misanthropes. The web browser is the product that produces the producers. You’d think it’d have more self respect, but maybe someone will one day produce something that isn’t an implied threat to user sanity.
Don’t know about the general response so far as raving endorsement. People agree about speed. Comments on Apple’s release are so far that Safari 3 doesn’t like Safari 4, and they want the bugs debugged.
Not mentioned in the blurb above is a history flip-through feature which is definitely an improvement on the amnesiac histories on some other browsers. People trying to track searches need the thing.
I’m not qualified to do the beta testing, (See David Silverberg's earlier DJ piece for a technical snapshot ) but I’m reasonably well placed to review the marketing approach. This is a definite grab for profile, long overdue, by an Apple that just might have realized it can grip what it grabs.
This is the download page for the beta version.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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