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The way that people
surf the Web is changing radically and changing fast. More than ever,
users want to create their own customized version by mashing up
existing content with their own stories, photos and videos.
With new versions of Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer on the horizon, the market for Web browsers is heating up again.
Firefox 3.0 is expected to ship next month, while Microsoft is releasing a test version of its latest IE, the finished version of which is supposed to come around year's end.
Apple is also making its own push by coming out with a version for non-Mac users.
While the giant of Redmond still controls more than three-quarters of the market, Firefox has been chipping away at that lead thanks to its feature set and small footprint.
The open-source software has pioneered innovations like pop-up blockers and has a steady income stream thanks to its partnership with Google.
All of this is good news for startups like Flock, whose social-browsing platform is built on top of the Firefox browsing engine and which released a test version of its latest iteration earlier this month.
Another social browsing startup, Medium, has taken a different approach, one that lets users see what Web sites their friends and others are surfing to in real time.
Given that most Web users expect to be able to customize their browsing without having to pay extra for software, it's clear that browsing upstarts will need to build their business models around partnerships with advertisers.
But after a long decade of stagnation, it's good to see innovation in the browser market getting pushed forward thanks to consumer demand and new technology.
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