Wow, Safari 4 includes built-in functionality extremely similar to a Firefox extension I use almost daily — Firebug. It’s accessible through Safari’s Developer menu, which is hidden by default. I wonder if technology like this being built into browsers will become the norm. I seem to recall that Mozilla had decided to strip the console or DOM inspector out of future versions of Firefox, but a couple minutes on Google and Wikipedia leave me with no evidence of this.
The conclusion here is that competition is good for the consumer, and developers aren’t often thought of as consumers. It’s also interesting that Safari, which lacks Firefox’s robust extension architecture, now has built-in functionality similar to my favorite Firefox extension. This reminds me of the progression of Mac OS (and perhaps Windows) — imitate popular third party applications, and include them with the OS. Think of iTunes: MP3 player, CD ripper, podcast manager. Many popular (free) third party applications have faded into obscurity because people don’t need them anymore.