Last week we wrote about how Apple was trying to push the Safari “update” on any computer with the Apple Software Update installed, regardless of whether Safari had ever been installed before on the machine. I don’t believe there was really anyone in our comments who thought that it was okay for Apple to do this, and now Mozilla has stepped forward with their thoughts on the topic.
Needless to say Mozilla isn’t too fond with how Apple is using the Software Update application to distribute Safari. Maybe they’re concerned with how this could affect their market share, but in the end it seems as though they are genuinely on the side of the consumer:
That’s a problem because of the dynamic I described above — by and large, all software makers are trying to get users to trust us on updates, and so the likely behavior here is for users to just click “Install 2 items,” which means that they’ve now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally. Apple has made it incredibly easy — the default, even — for users to install ride along software that they didn’t ask for, and maybe didn’t want. This is wrong, and borders on malware distribution practices.
It’s wrong because it undermines the trust that we’re all trying to build with users. Because it means that an update isn’t just an update, but is maybe something more. Because it ultimately undermines the safety of users on the web by eroding that relationship. It’s a bad practice and should stop.
What I’m left wondering is how many people who install Safari for the first time this way will actually use it? Is Apple just looking for a number that they can boast as to how many computers have Safari installed, or will they actually be able to see a jump in market share as a result of their slightly deceitful practices? We’ll have to keep an eye on the browser stats next month and compare them to how they have performed in the past.
[parts of the image by flatrock]