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No Plans for Internet Explorer on iOS and Android

Over the weekend I downloaded the Chrome Web browser on my iPad after it showed up as a suggested download. Somehow I forgot Chrome is now available on iOS and I was thrilled to see I could not only run the browser, but instantly have access to my bookmarks and Web browsing history from other PCs on which I work. Then I wondered if Internet Explorer would ever find its way into the iTunes App Store. After all, Office is now available on iOS, as well as other popular Microsoft offerings. However, it doesn't appear that Internet Explorer on iOS is in the cards.

Apparently, Microsoft put cold water on that idea last week during a Redit Ask Me Anything (AMA) chat. As reported by "All About Microsoft" blogger Mary Jo Foley, Internet Explorer is one of Redmond's offerings that the company won't deliver on iOS or Android. "Right now, we're focused on building a great mobile browser for Windows Phone and have made some great progress lately," said Charles Morris, a member of the Internet Explorer platform team, during the AMA chat. "So, no current plans for Android/iOS."

That's unfortunate, especially given the rate of growth for Windows Phone, which actually dropped last quarter. It appears Microsoft is still fixed on the notion that its Internet Explorer Web browser is inextricably tied to Windows.

Also, as noted by Forbes, the Internet Explorer team acknowledged during the AMA chat that Microsoft has considered renaming the browser, presumably to make it more hip. That's a questionable idea considering Internet Explorer is still the most widely used browser, especially among enterprises.

When asked about the potential for a name change, Jonathan Sampson, also on the Internet Explorer platform team, responded: "It's been suggested internally; I remember a particularly long e-mail thread where numerous people were passionately debating it. Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today."

Asked why the company didn't just change the name, Sampson responded: "The discussion I recall seeing was a very recent one (just a few weeks ago). Who knows what the future holds." Changing the name, of course, won't do much to help the browser's reputation if it's known for the same problems it has had in the past -- namely security and privacy flaws.

If something has a very bad reputation, sometimes rebranding it is the only course of action. But as the old saying goes, "a rose is still a rose ..." Despite the fact it's no longer the dominant browser, Internet Explorer still has the largest market share, according to Net Applications. Even if its share continues its incremental decline, Internet Explorer is a well-known browser and not merely for its flaws. People who don't use Microsoft products, particularly those who prefer Apple offerings or the LAMP stack, aren't going to be moved by a new name for anything coming out of Redmond. Produce a browser that has fewer flaws and advanced features and it'll be popular no matter what it's called.

Regardless of the name, would making it available on iOS and Android stem any declines on a platform that's still widely used? Or would it facilitate it? Perhaps the company sees Internet Explorer as critical to holding onto the Windows franchise. If that's the case, the company might wait. In the meantime, I look forward to using the Chrome browser on my iPad and will stick to using Internet Explorer only on Windows.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/18/2014 at 1:31 PM


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