What Netscape’s Founder Thinks About the New Google Browser

Marc Andreessen, whose first startup, Netscape Communications, introduced the consumer web to millions thanks to its Netscape browser, seems to be suitably impressed by Google’s recently released Chrome browser. He waxed eloquent about Chrome during an onstage conversation with Portfolio magazine contributing editor Kevin Maney at The Churchill Club in Palo Alto, Calif. “Any desktop application that has not been implemented in the browser is now going to be implemented in the browser,” Andreessen said. It was an idea he had espoused over a decade ago.

Blown away by the speed of the browser, and its radical and innovative JavaScript engine, Andreessen called the launch of Chrome an “extraordinary event.” He said that it is going to make Firefox and Internet Explorer compete actively with Chrome and that it would ultimately boost browsers as a whole. Mozilla CEO John Lilly had shared similar sentiments in an interview earlier this week.

“Microsoft can build good products when they want to,” he said. The barons of Redmond released a version of Internet Explorer that was superior to a bloated version of Netscape and gave it away for free, driving a stake through Netscape’s heart. That’s ancient history, anyway. Andreessen thinks that IE and Firefox will have to accelerate their plans and introduce new technologies. He thinks that all this is going to boost the performance of JavaScript. Giving into nostalgia for a minute, he pointed out that it was 10 feet away from his desk at Netscape that JavaScript first got going. He said.

More than a decade later it is everywhere. “If JavaScript gets any faster, then developers will question if they should develop in Flash or (Microsoft’s) Silverlight (technologies),”
“Super interactive browser that sits atop a super-fast connection…now interesting things will happen over the next 5-10 years,” he said. While he talked at length about Facebook, Twitter, Qik and Ning, it was his comments about the Chrome browser that were quite interesting.

Why? Because back in the day he was one of the first few people to talk about the browser as an operating environment. I had bought into the concept then, and I buy into it now. With always-on connections feeding networked devices and mobile phones, the browser-as-an-operating-environment is close to becoming a reality.

During the Q&A session, in response to a question, Andreessen said the share of Google’s browser market share depends on the company’s ability to fully productize the browser and then distribute it.

P.S.: I tried to take notes as fast as I could, but since Marc speaks too fast I apologize if some of the quotes might be wee bit mangled.