Why Browser Stick-in-the-muds Are Good For The IndustryMarch 4, 2008 at 8:48 am | Posted in Browsers | 2 Comments
I just had a good conversation with a reporter from the New York Times regarding why people choose not to update their technology and my blog posting on “More People Pick Their Religion Than Their Browser?“. I’m not sure how much of it will wind up in print, so I’ll relate here what I said.
First, it’s a fact that even though vendors come out with a new release doesn’t mean that everyone automatically upgrades. For example, 0.14% of browsers are still Netscape (not Mozilla/Firefox – I actually mean the old Netscape). That may not sound like much, but given the number of browsers out there it actually adds up to a real number. And since these stats are based on hits on websites, it does mean they are actually in use and not just sitting dormant on an old PC somewhere.
The reporter asked a good question, which is whether the people that are slow to update their software are good for the industry. I gave a resounding “yes”. These stodgy users force vendors to give compelling reasons to upgrade or else they won’t do it. And the reasons have to be good enough to make up for their strong bias towards sticking with what has worked in the past. When their PCs finally bite the dust and they need to buy a new one, that’s when they’ll get new software. Good for them.
Of course, software as a service (SaaS) promises to change this whole dynamic. Since the vendors make money from ongoing subscriptions rather than on periodic upgrades, they no longer have an incentive to make changes just to get a revenue bump. But the other side of that coin is that SaaS vendors might have more incentive to skate by with whatever they can as long as it doesn’t cause a mass exodus of users. Also, many enterprise users are uncomfortable with software that can change incrementally and frequently because of the burden it places on training and help desks that have to support users. End-user SaaS is still new so it’s yet to be determined how these pros and cons will play out in the enterprise.