Netscape's latest browser engine technology will be included in several vendors' internet appliances, but the move is unlikely to reverse its decline in the browser market, according to analysts.
The AOL subsidiary said yesterday that its browser engine technology, Gecko, would be used by IBM, Intel and Red Hat, among others, to develop set-top boxes and internet appliances.
Netscape said the broad adoption of Gecko - the first technology produced under the Mozilla open source programme - could lead to fresh approaches for web developers and could more easily extend web access to handheld devices.
However, few analysts believe that Netscape is poised to reclaim its position as the leading browser, where Microsoft's Internet Explorer has a significant lead.
"Netscape has lost its market lead, largely due to lost momentum when it was subsumed into AOL," said Sarah Skinner, internet analyst at investment house Durlacher.
Matthew Nordan, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said that Netscape had lost the browser wars to Microsoft, and downplayed the announcement.
"Mozilla.org was expected to produce a browser a year ago, but it's proved to be difficult to get people working on the web developing Mozilla - unlike what has happened with Linux," said Nordan. He added that despite this, set-top boxes would be an important access device to the internet.
Jim Hammerly, vice president for client product developments at Netscape, admitted that "it takes a lot to build a high-capability browser." He said Gecko had a small footprint and cross-platform features.
Netscape also announced that a beta version of the delayed web browser, Netscape 6, will be available within 25 days.
To make it easier to develop a cross-platform user interface, Netscape has made an XML application called XUL (XML based User interface Language) available.
According to Forrester, by 2004, 168 million people in Europe will access the web through PC and 147 million via interactive TV. The majority, 219 million, will access the web via Wap enabled mobile phones.
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