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12/12/2006
03:46 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Entrepreneur Discusses The Choice Of Firefox Vs. Internet Explorer

With resources limited, Alex Iskold had to choose between his startup developing its tool for smarter Web browsing, BlueOrganizer, for the Firefox browser or for Internet Explorer. Iskold considers picking Firefox the right move for his business-and his beliefs.

With resources limited, Alex Iskold had to choose between his startup developing its tool for smarter Web browsing, BlueOrganizer, for the Firefox browser or for Internet Explorer. Iskold considers picking Firefox the right move for his business-and his beliefs.Iskold, founder and CTO of the company AdaptiveBlue, is profiled as one of Information Week's Innovators & Influencers for the coming year. These are the kind of people who may not be well-known, but who can fuel business-technology change in the coming year. The magazine profile is rather brief, which is why I wanted to follow up here.

From a business standpoint, Iskold looks at Firefox users as the early adopter crowd he needs to cater to. Technically, he describes Firefox as "much more extensible." Plus, it's Firefox users who are out there experimenting with add-ons to make their browsing experience better. That's what BlueOrganizer, which has been downloaded about 150,000 times, is about. He describes it as a "practical approach to the semantic Web." But rather than some "uber-architecture," BlueOrganizer understands that if a site is classified as travel related, it should consider words in that context, and anticipate what search actions you'll likely take from there. (Here's TechCrunch's take last month.)

In addition, the tool collects data on what a person does on the Web, with the goal of personalizing Web experiences. That's where Iskold expects big advances in the coming year, such as through partnerships with search engines and e-retailers. Since AdaptiveBlue holds the data, and delivers it through the browser, the user will be able to decide which services and Web stores it wants a personalized experience with, and only apply personal data for those. Even then, an e-retailer, for example, will only get an ID number with relevant data, not the person's identity. The shopping and the purchase remain two independent parts, Iskold says.

That's the business part. Now for the beliefs. Iskold likes being on the side of innovation, and thinks that's what Firefox represents. Microsoft hasn't strove to innovate with Internet Explorer, he says, and thinks the company's approach of "strive to replicate," which has worked so far, won't in the future. "The browser wars are just beginning, and Firefox is rising," he says.

Iskold isn't opposed to building a BlueOrganizer version for Internet Explorer. As he gets more resources (the VCs are knocking, you can bet), he'll probably do so. But with many companies like his starting their innovation with IE's much-smaller rival, that community of developers gives Firefox one valuable edge in the browser wars.

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