Remember the browser wars? This week, Slate published a nice chart of the ongoing browser wars, which is a lot more interesting and volatile than it ever was when Microsoft and Netscape first squared off back in 1995. The short version is that Internet Explorer now represents less than 20 percent of Internet users, Firefox is quickly losing market share, and Chrome now has 40 percent of all users. You can see the detailed, month-by-month breakdown here.
Even more dramatic shifts continue to take place in the PC market, which is completely moribund. Sales of Windows-based PCs grew a pitiful 4 percent last year, a 14 percent decline in the growth rate from last year before. That’s the slowest growth rate since 2001. And as noted here before, the iPad has been outselling the total number of PCs sold.
These are facts that have nothing to do with the relative merits of the various platforms available. There are perfectly valid reasons to use PCs, just as Mac aficionados have good reasons to love their Macs. But the days when one technology platform, Wintel, had 98 percent market share, are over. This is the business landscape all legal technologists have to consider in making buying decisions. This ongoing market fragmentation is daunting, but the solution is simple.
The only viable technology solution is one that works in every browser and is completely platform independent. Technology should not be tied to any one browser, any computer type, or any operating system. Unfortunately, true platform independence is still rare in legal technology. A number of eDiscovery vendors still release technology specific to one browser or platform. For example, some software is being retrofitted to act like it is not platform specific, often using technology like Microsoft Silverlight. This is not platform independence, it’s called kludge.
The simple solution is to ask one question about any software. Does it work on every computer or device? If the answer is no, it makes no sense in the world we live in today.