from the nobody-here-but-us-safaris dept
Last week, Apple apparently began distributing its Safari web browser to Windows users using the software update mechanism that comes with iTunes. This has generated a firestorm of controversy, notably from Mozilla CEO John Lilly, who says Apple's behavior undermines users' trust in the software update process. He's got a point. What Apple is doing here is a little bit sleazy. Users who opt to download iTunes aren't necessarily interested in installing or running Safari, and so making installation the default is an abuse of the relationship between Apple and its customers. On the other hand, I think it's important to make it clear that there's nothing inherently wrong with Apple using its installed base of iTunes users to help promote Safari. The issue here is that the opt-out mechanism it's chosen is somewhat misleading. Apple can fix the problem very easily by switching the default, so that Safari is unchecked until the user chooses to check it. Or, if Apple wants to be a little more aggressive, a pop-up window could require the user to make a yes or no choice on installing Safari. If the user clicks "no," the update mechanism should respect this choice and not bring it up again. The problem, in other words, is not that Apple is using the popularity of iTunes to promote another of its products. The problem is that it's not being as transparent as it could be with its users.