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Tuesday, October 04, 2005, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Gap Inc. locks Safari users out of clothing sites

Gap Inc., one of the world's largest specialty clothing retailers, has made changes to several of its websites that prevent users of Apple's Mac OS X Safari Web browser from browsing and shopping its brands.

This week Safari users began reporting problems when attempting to visit the websites of Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy — three trendy brands owned by San Francisco, Calif.-based Gap Inc.

"It looks like the new gap.com, bananarepublic.com and oldnavy.com do not support the latest version of Safari," said a disappointed Safari user shopping online for a new pair of jeans. "The pages just reload continuously with no content."

The Gap websites appear to be redirecting Safari users to this page, which says: "We're sorry, but we do not support the version of the browser you are using."

For Mac users, Gap recommends "Netscape 7 and above" or "Mozilla (Firefox) 1.0 and above." Both browsers are popular amongst Mac users but are not as widely used as Safari, which ships as the default browser on the Mac OS X operating system.

Data recently released by Apple indicates that there are now well over 10 million active users of Mac OS X and counting. The growing popularity of the Mac platform has also helped Safari become the third most popular Web browser on the Internet.

In April, real-time website analysis firm OneStat said Safari held a 1.26% share of the browser market, which was up approximately 0.05% from February. Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer are the only two browsers with more users; they hold a 8.69% and 86.63% share of the browser market, respectively.

It's unclear if Gap plans to restore Safari support on its websites in the near future. Representatives for the company were not immediately available for comment.

Ironically, it was Apple and Gap who teamed on a joint promotion in August to offer shoppers a free Apple iTunes song download if they tried on a new pair of Gap denim jeans.

The two companies have also had a history of consulting one another on business initiatives. Millard Drexler, now heading J. Crew, joined Apple's Board of Directors in May of 1999 while he was CEO of Gap. Less than four months later, Apple's Steve Jobs took a seat on Gaps board — a position he held until October of 2002.