This video is an excellent documentary of that time.
In the end, Netscape disappeared after an intense battle with Microsoft, and a series of bad decisions (such as a Java based browser, the Collabra acquisition). After a few years, that source code became the basis for the Firefox browser.
If Netscape Navigator was Ben Kenobi to Internet Explorer's Darth Vader, then Firefox, Chrome and the mobile WebKit browsers are the rag-tag bunch that blew up the Death Star.
Dan Grigsby, iPhone developer, avocate and founder of the popular iPhone news site and podcast 'Mobile Orchard' has decided to call it quits. He is abandoning iPhone as a platform and discontinuing the web site and blog. Apple's increasingly dictatorial control over the platform, and more specifically the recent decision to reject apps not written in Objective-C, C++ or C have finally pushed him over the edge. He is just the latest in a series of vocal iPhone developers to jump ship. The rational for his decision has been posted as his last entry to Mobile Orchard. You can read it here.
Here are some quotes which I think really get to the heart of the issue:
"Ask permission environments crush creativity and innovation..."
"Without exception, whenever Iíve taken built an app to capitalize on one of my ideas itís run afoul of Appleís policies... ...Apple could decide that this violates the Ts&Cs and kick me out of the program, thereby taking away my ability to support my family."
"Iím fine with Apple curating the App Store. If they want to treat the App Store as an extension of their brand, fine. If thatís their goal, they should decimate ó literally ó the store, stripping out the crappy-yet-inoffensive dross. But provide unrestricted, frictionless, off-store distribution a la Android.
"Iím a principled person. Appleís offended my principles. Consequently, Iíve decided to abandon iPhone development. I wonít work in this ask-permission environment any longer."
I think Dan is taking a brave stand. As an Iphone developer I continue to be concerned by Apple's increasingly Orwellian policies. I am still optimistic that eventually good will prevail, but I must admit that so far I don't see Apple steering away from the course they are on.