August 13, 2002

AOL Uses Netscape for Mac OS X
Looks like AOL is trying to use some usability improvements to get a leg up on Microsoft. While the "browser war" might be as interesting as a fight between a rottweiler and a rawhide bone, personally I think the way AOL is pitching the new version is of more interest -- they are pointing to usability improvements as reasons to switch:

- AOL for Mac OS X uses the Apple operating system's Aqua interface -- Calling the new offering a response to "what our members who use Macs want," David Gang, executive vice president of AOL's product marketing group, hailed the new service as easy to use and "more fully integrated into the Mac environment." (consistency, integration with OS)
- Users can see at a glance (at the OS X dock) how many new e-mail messages and instant messages they have and a single click from the service's new welcome screen will take them directly to their e-mail accounts (accelerators)
- A new AOL Search service uses Google technology to help users conduct searches (integration with web and user's favorite search - Google provides better search usability)

Will these enhancements be enough to make OS X users switch to Netscape? Time will tell. Point here is this: usability improvements can be used to create competitive advantage and to distinguish a product in marketing. Second point: competition breeds innovation.

No comments: