Taking aim at Microsoft's Internet Explorer and its 78% market share, Apple announced Monday that it has launched a version of its Safari web browser that will run on Windows PCs.
In an appearance at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs boasted, "What we've got here is the most innovative browser in the world and the most powerful browser in the world."
Jobs said it runs twice as fast as Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, which has a 15% market share. He added that Safari currently has a 5% worldwide market share, which translates to more than 18 million users. A public beta version is available now from Apple's web site.
Apple investors appeared unimpressed with the news, sending the company's shares down 3.4% on Monday.
Shannon Cross, an analyst with Soleil-Cross Research, said Monday's decline reflected the company's lack of other new product announcements.
"As most had been expecting, Apple's World Wide Developers Conference was all about developers and Leopard," Cross said in a research report. "We believe the stock weakness reflects the lack of any new products or big announcements."
The analyst said the June 29 launch of the iPhone will be the most important news event for the stock.
Goldman Sachs analyst David Bailey said Jobs' keynote speech supports the firm's belief that Apple's software technology has allowed it to dominate new markets and maintain its advantage over rivals.
"Apple's ability to leverage its R&D investment in software, particularly Mac OS X, across its Mac, iPhone, and Apple TV product lines contributes to operating income and earnings growth that should continue to outpace revenue growth," Bailey wrote in a client report Monday.
Jobs also told developers that the Apple iPhone, now 18 days away from launch, will run third-party applications using Web 2.0 standards. That's a departure for Apple, which has been reluctant to make similar moves in the past.
Most of the keynote was devoted to a rundown of 10 key new features in Apple's upcoming Mac operating system known as "Leopard." Among them are a new way to organize information and the ability to automatically backup the computer's hard drive. Leopard will be in stores in October at a price of $129. "We are already ahead of the competition," said Jobs. "Leopard sets the bar even higher."
Jobs also announced that Electronic Arts will be making games to run on the Mac. Titles include "Harry Potter," "Madden '08," and "Tiger Woods '08."