Mar 21 2008
Yesterday a friend of mine posted in a chat room “Hey, why’s Safari upgrading? I don’t even have Safari installed.” Most of us figured it had been installed alongside Quicktime or iTunes and let it go. But it turns out that wasn’t the case; in a bid to increase Safari’s marketshare, Apple is pushing out Safari to anyone and everyone who’s got Apple Software Update on their computer. And that means all Mac’s (obviously) and anyone who’s ever installed Quicktime or iTunes. If you’ve got an iPod, you’ve probably installed iTunes, despite your better judgment.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call this evil, but it’s definitely a questionable tactic on Apple’s part. Most users aren’t going to know Safari from the Sound Recorder in Windows, and they’ll just download it because it’s from Apple. They’ll probably never fire it up, but Apple will be able claim a big increase in the number of Safari installations. I’d say this ranks pretty high on the list of questionable business practices.
I have iTunes installed on my PC, but the Apple Software Update service is set to manual, since I want to be in control of my upgrades, not Apple. Most people should have it running, since patching is not something the average user ever willingly thinks about, let alone does. But the way Apple is abusing this service is reminds me of the tactics malware writers use to get their software on your computer; promise one thing and then load a number of other programs onto your computer when you’re not looking. Is this really the type of reputation Apple wants to garner?
Update: Here’s Andy’s own take on the Apple Safari “upgrade”.