Dave and I did a little podcast crossover and joined Brian Kardell and Eric Meyer over on the Igalia Chats show. They are nine-parts deep on this series so far talking about Web Ecosystem Health.
It’s a fascinating topic so I’m glad they are making it a whole series rather than cramming the idea into one show.
One of the overall considerations is that it takes One Shitload of money to make and maintain a browser. As we’ve experienced several times over the past several years, companies dip out on doing this, including companies as big as Microsoft.
It’s easy to get really bummed about this. Consider how Google funds a very high percentage of the entirety of Mozilla. Google could snap its fingers and end Mozilla. (Dave thinks they won’t because Mozilla is a monopoly shield, which is a great theory.) Then we’d be down to two major engines, which share a strong lineage already (Blink and WebKit). And as too-big-to-fail as it seems like Apple and Google are, massive shakeups happen, especially in tech. Browser teams with massive budgets are cost centers, not profit centers. It’s not likely they would last until the bitter end if either company had a strong downturn.
But there are bright sides! I’ve said before I don’t think it’s really even possible to build one from scratch, as the effort, money, and time would be astronomical. But I’m wrong about that, as Servo is doing just that. And it’s nice that all three major engines now are open source. The ball on any of these can be picked up again, should it be dropped.
Take a look at the number of browsers are used in Kodachi (linux distro). They have quite a cookbook of flavors from many browser engines. Maybe OS should be the origin of maintaining and providing browsers….