The Lite Side

How Microsoft Could Profit by Selling Internet Explorer for Mac

- 2006.01.02

Microsoft's announcement that it will no longer develop or support Internet Explorer (IE) for the Mac leads me to an inescapable conclusion regarding the future of the product. Microsoft has not had so much press for IE since it was initially installed as the default browser on early iMacs in the pre-Safari days.

Some are so disappointed with Microsoft dropping IE that they're even proposing that Microsoft give the code to the Mac community so others can improve the product.

I don't believe this is the right strategy.

A smart marketer would take advantage of the attention and offer the browser for sale, now that it has become an endangered species.

That's right, you read "for sale".

How can Microsoft sell something it used to give away for free?

Simple. Just act on the assumption that most users are, well, let's say gullible. All you have to do is provide a new "free" download of IE with a few modifications. Users are greeted with a splash screen that says, "This product line will expire in six months, and your web browser will automatically delete itself unless you register the product and pay the registration fee of $19.95. Click here to make a secure payment."

$19.95 is the right price, because it's expensive enough to seem like a substantial purchase - and not so cheap to make it feel like a commodity price.

Who would be gullible enough to click on the registration button?

All those users who only use IE for browsing, that's who!

I'm talking about:

  • the people who ask "where's the Internet on your computer?"
  • the people who wonder whether or not a Mac can get on the Internet in the first place
  • the people who stare blankly at you and drool when you explain that there are other programs besides IE that can surf the Web
  • anyone who still uses the phrase "information superhighway"
  • anyone who refers to Internet Explorer as "Windows"
  • anyone who asks you where the big blue "E" is on your alternative browser
  • people who ask how to add IE to that "spring up thingy" at the bottom of your OS X screen
  • people not clear on the concept of a program vs. an operating system
  • people who refer to the Mac as a "toy"
  • Windows users forced to use a Mac temporarily
  • anyone who asks you what a "Fire Fox" is
  • people who think the Safari icon is a computerized compass that tells you which way your computer is oriented
  • people who never, ever, ever go to the Opera
  • people who think iCab is some sort of self-driven taxi
  • users who still stubbornly cling to Netscape 4.7
  • users who buy two mice and plug them into both USB ports so they'll have two-button mice
  • people who read "The Lite Side" on a regular basis
  • Linux users who want another reason to curse The Monopoly
  • your ex-girlfriend, who knows better than to pay for a free product but thinks you don't
  • people who are really appreciative of what Microsoft has given the world and want to give a little back
  • Bill Gates' domestic servants at his mansion
  • people who buy Viagra from spam
  • people who buy fake Rolexes from spam
  • people who agree to help out desperate Nigerians
  • people who carefully put in only one CD in a Mac, because as everyone knows, you can put one in, but you can't ever take it out, as it has no eject button
  • people who are astonished that there is a Microsoft Office suite for the Mac
  • anyone using IE for Windows, because as everyone knows equivalent software is more expensive on the Mac
  • people struggling to remember what a "Mozilla" is based on the drive-in movies they've seen
  • people who do online banking and believe that all banks require IE

As you can see, there's a substantial market awaiting Microsoft. They could make millions - the only question is whether they'd notice the income against all the other profit they make.

You think that I'm joking? I'm not - I've met an uncomfortably large number of the people I describe here.

If Microsoft did release IE for the Mac for developers to use, just think what havoc could be wreaked by someone using what looks like official Microsoft software to solicit payments, account numbers, etc.

Releasing IE for the Mac could unleash a torrent of spyware, phishing programs, and fraud tools on unsuspecting and gullible Mac users. It could even lead to the collapse of the Mac as a platform. We'd be as vulnerable as a PC user is on a PC.

So . . . never mind. You didn't read this. Just move along, nothing to see here. This is not the idea Microsoft is looking for.

Just forget the whole thing, okay.

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