Despite the fevered talk of the newly revamped internet and its ideology, over the past few months the fight for the internet-application market has rapidly been snowballing into a distorted replay of the 1990s browser wars. To run a Google Gears application I feel like I’m going to need the right browser; to visit a Silverlight website I’m going to need the right plug-in. And among all this, Adobe is continuing to battle away with the growth of Flash, which has turned from a way of making websites look prettier to a complete application framework.
It’s not the end of the world and it’s not as hideous as the original browser wars. But I’m starting to feel like an innocent consumer caught in the crossfire of an almighty battle, which has nothing to do with philanthropic desires to set the world to rights, and everything to do with cash. I’ve started running Chrome and Firefox alongside each other. I lose track of which plug-in has been installed in which browser. I start tutting and sighing out loud when I visit Hotmail and it tells me I need an upgrade because it thinks Chrome is actually Safari. And despite myself, I’ve started to wonder if a de facto standard that everyone already has – Adobe Flash – is better than all this upheaval. Shame on me.