What follows is pure speculation. It's probably worse than Opera on Mac. It may even hurt my good relationships with a few former Netscape colleagues. What if Apple had weighted the risk of AOL going tits up and throwing Netscape with the water bath before making a move towards KHTML? Again, it might be bullshit, although I can't believe that Steve Jobs did not at least think about this business risk before making a decision.
Hold on, isn't Mozilla an open-source project that has a life outside AOL? Yes, sure. But read what Dave Hyatt has to say about AOL:
[...] AOL would not support Chimera. It could only have ever been a "spare time" project, and AOL was increasingly drawing me away from Mozilla and into lame AOL initiatives that I had no interest in.
When your own company won't even support your browser, that isn't much fun. [source]
I was at Netscape when Mark Andreesen announced us that the browser would go open-source (under the name of our mascot, Mozilla). I thought that this was a sound decision (the browser war was raging, we were loosing money, many were thinking we had no chance confronting Microsoft). Many years later it's easy to say that this was what saved Netscape from being obliterated by IE, it wasn't obvious at the time.
I might be completely wrong, but I still have the feeling that Mozilla is in jeopardy, should AOL vaporize Netscape and throw key Mozilla volunteers out of payroll. Actually, I sincerely hope that I'm wrong. I've just seen too many companies going bankrupt in a blip and I work in IT, nothing to help being overtly optimistic those days.