The IE6 virus

When successful viruses wreak havoc on the world the press is quick to come up with various monetary estimates for how much damage said virus caused in lost work etc.

Now wouldn’t it be fun to know how much damage the king of viruses has caused? Yes I’m of course talking about IE6. IE6 is like a Firefox that got infested with some kind of prank virus that makes it behave like a schizoid, senile granny on LSD.

The US department of labor estimates that there are about 800.000 software engineers employed in the country (I couldn’t find any statistics on web designers). Let’s for the sake of argument assume that there are about 400.000 web developers in the US that routinely have to deal with CSS related issues. If we apply that figure globally we would come up with a figure of about a million if we are conservative.

In the US a web designer makes about $50000. Web design is being done more and more in the developing world so let’s assume the median wage is $25000 on a global basis. Let’s also assume that about 10% of their time is being spent on css issues related to ie6. In money that means 1,000,000 * 25,000 * 0.1 which is $2,500,000,000.

Six years have passed since the virus was released upon the world which means it has caused damages of about $15 billion to date just in increased development costs. This amount does not account for secondary damages by lost sales, dysfunctional sites and so on. At the time of release Steve Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft and therefore has the ultimate responsibility to make amends. As it happens his net worth is $15 billion so he can just barely afford it. Do the right thing Steve!

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