Monthly Archives: July 2008

Open Source Conference Kansai

While everyone is focused on OSCON this week, last week dynamis, Eri Inoue and Chibi Takita from Mozilla Japan participated in the Open Source Conference Kansai, which was held at the Kyoto College of Graduate Studies for Informatics.  Shimono-san reports that there were over 1150 attendees over the 2 days of the event.

Makoto has a nice set of photos on Flickr: OSCKansai – a set on Flickr.

dynamis did a presentation on Firefox 3 and Chibi held a discussion on open source with Tomoko Yoshida, another prominent person in Japan’s open-source world and associate professor at Kyoto Notre Dame University. My favorite is the photo from the presentation where Chibi is holding her son on her last day of work at Mozilla.

Firefox on fire in Indonesia

Ken Kovash, who runs Mozilla’s Blog of Metrics, recently shared that Firefox Surpasses 50% Market Share in Indonesia. This is quite amazing news considering that Indonesia did not have a fully-localized version of Firefox until version 3.0.

I asked our locale owner for Firefox Bahasa Indonesia, Romi Hardiyanto, for some additional insight and he provided additional perspectives.  Romi told me about a very popular forum in Indonesia which had a 58% Firefox market share in May of 2008.  Another site Romi referenced is digdagdug, which reported 55% Firefox market share in April:Browser Pilihan dagdigdug’er.

Romi mentioned that many Indonesians who use the Internet are familiar with the English computer and Internet-related terms.  That and the usage of English in University means that most Indonesians on the Internet are very familiar with English and have used the English Firefox up until now.  It is great to have an Indonesian Firefox for those who may be less comfortable with English as Firefox grows in Indonesia.
If you have other ideas about how or why Firefox is so popular in Indonesia, please leave a comment.  Thank you in advance. :)

WIPI in Korea or non-tariff barriers to mobile competition

Last year I wrote about the de-facto monopoly of Microsoft Internet Explorer in South Korea (Slashdot, Digg, etc.) Everyone I tell this story to in the Internet industry, who is not South Korean, is amazed and surprised by such a reality.

Now I hear that the South Korean government’s Mobile Platform Special Subcommittee of the Korea Wireless Internet Standardization Forum (KWISF), in an attempt to create competition (or some say block foreign competition) in the mobile application space, required a Korean-developed middleware standard on all Korean mobile phones, WIPI or (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability), which effectively closed the Korean market to international competition.

I first heard about WIPI only a few days ago, on Channy Yun’s Korea Crunch weblog. Then Changwon Kim blogged about the negative impact of WIPI in Korea at Web 2.0 Asia: Korean government mulling over scraping WIPI altogether.

Here are some other recent choice quotes about the impact of WIPI in South Korea:

The Korea Times: Wireless Operators in Talks With Nokia, Apple Over Phones

“The one remaining trade barrier for foreign handset makers is “WIPI,” or “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard that the government mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets.

With Korea accounting for just 2 percent of the world’s mobile-phone market, it was hard to convince the foreign handset makers to produce WIPI-enabled phones not usable elsewhere.

However, the KCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, is now considering scrapping the WIPI requirements, amid criticism that maintaining a fixed software standard would mean little when the global industry trend leans toward the adoption of open-source operating systems for wireless platforms.

FT.com: Korea signals lifting of handset barrier

But faced with criticism that the regulation restricts Korean consumers’ choices, President Lee Myung-bak’s newly elected government has expressed a willingness to soften the WIPI rule, potentially allowing foreign handset makers a way into the Korean market.

The WIPI rule, designed to protect local companies, has been the biggest entry barrier against foreign handset makers,” says Stan Jung, analyst at Woori Investment & Securities. “Once the rule is spiked, global companies will actively seek to enter the market. Then, Samsung and LG will find it hard to maintain their dominance.

The Korea Times: IT Regulation Prevents Korean Access to iPhone

The presence of two of the world’s largest mobile phone makers ― Samsung and LG ― has encouraged the [Korean] government to shut its door to foreign-made mobile phones by using non-tariff barriers. Along with iPhone, the Nokia, Blackberry and Sony-Ericsson phones are virtually not allowed to be sold here.

Korea is not ready,” said a manager of Apple Korea Tuesday. “We have no comment on iPhone matter in Korea, also, there is no plan to release any further information about launching of iPhone in Korea”

In 2003, the government imposed a unique software platform called WIPI on mobile phones on sale, hoping that this industrial standard can save firms from unnecessary competition and overlapping investment. But as phone technologies advance, this regulation has become a stiff trade barrier for foreign makers who think it is not cost-efficient to redesign their products only for the South Korean market.

Digital Daily by John Paczkowski: South Korea: No iPhone for YOU!

“And for Apple (AAPL), as well as other handset manufacturers like Nokia (NOK) and Sony Ericsson (ERIC), redesigning their devices to do so is a costly proposition. So costly, in fact, that they’d rather not bother.

ZDNet Korea: Seems like WIPI is out. Can Korea become a global financial hub without it?

According to Hong [a Korean mobile software developer], Korean handset makers obviously do not want to abolish WIPI, in their fear of shrinking market share. Fortunately for them, the effort for the restoration of WIPI is still ongoing. As Hong said, developing WIPI into an open-source style is considered, if it helps the country’s IT industry.

The problem with thinking that open-sourcing WIPI will help is that the license for the WIPI software is not the core problem. None of the non-Korean mobile handset manufacturers want to deal with WIPI, whether it is open source or not, because the costs for developing and maintaining a fork for just one nation is not worth the effort (unless you’re Qualcomm it seems.)

This is now the second time that I have learned that Korea has developed a standard, unique to Korea, which has effectively closed the market to competition (the first being the pc desktop web browser market, of which there is no Korean-domestic browser, so they make do with Internet Explorer.)

As Ian Fleming said in Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is enemy action.” (Note, my point here is to say that the S. Korean government seems to make active decisions to limit competition in Korea, which in turn benefits the domestic businesses who are closest to the market.)

I’ll close with Dame Shirley Bassey, because she should always be given the last word.

Firefox 3 pocket guide published

I think Yuichiro Kobayashi gets the crown for the first Firefox 3 book published anywhere.  Kobayashi-san’s  できるポケット+ Firefox Mozilla Firefox 3対応 (Amazon Japan no-affiliate link) book (it is basically translated as “Mozilla Firefox 3 pocket guide”) is out now will be published in early August by Impress Japan.

This is a book for beginners to Firefox and goes over how to install Firefox, how to use many of the features of Firefox, and goes over 20 popular add-ons in detail.  It’s a full-color book and is quite small (maybe paperback book-sized.)

Firefox 3 pocket guide (Impress Japan)

O’Reilly Japan
is also planning to publish a Firefox 3 Hacks book later in August which I will certainly blog about here when I have something to show.

significant Linux contributors from Japan

Amanda McPherson of the Linux Foundation writes about the recent Linux Foundation symposium in Japan: Linux is Big in Japan — Our Symposium.

While the majority of the audience came from Japan, attendees came from throughout Asia. The audience consisted almost completely of developers attending from such companies as NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NTT, Sony, Toshiba, Canon and Red Hat and from universities including Tokyo University and Waseda University. An audience survey revealed that the areas of most interest to the attendees included server, desktop and embedded with the largest technical interests focused on virtualization, process scheduler and file systems, in that order.

Andrew Morton informed the audience that about 15% of current kernel contributions are now coming from Japan – something we hope the Japan Symposiums have contributed to.

This statistic of the relatively high (in my opinion) participation in the kernel from Japan is interesting because it somewhat contradicts things Linus said in an earlier interview at the Linux Foundation (about the lack of participation in the kernel from Asia), which I also blogged about in January. That there is a strong contingent of contributors to the Linux kernel from Japan is a great trend and something that I think disproves the myth that “Asia” doesn’t contribute to open source.  Let’s look forward to more contributions to open source from all over the world, not just the places where OSS has been traditionally strong.

Firefox 3 downloaded by 11.3% of Japanese internet population

Ken at WhatJapanThinks.com has a nice English translation of a survey of 330 people I saw earlier today on japan.internet.com: Firefox 3 downloaded by 11.3% of Japanese internet population.
Firefox 3 リリース初日に全体の5.5%が、19日以降は5.8%がダウンロード」。

The good news is that over 11% of Japanese people who are online have downloaded Firefox 3. This is a great credit to the product and all of the developers and community members, testers, and localizers who made Firefox 3 a great release. It also reflects well on the press efforts that Mozilla made in order to get the word out, be it the Guiness World Record Download Day attempt at SpreadFirefox.com, or the efforts that Mozilla Japan made to get the press and bloggers to write about Firefox 3, a sample of which is captured at Mozilla Japan’s press coverage page.

The bad news is, and I’ll quote Ken here:

However, 70.3% were unaware of the release, but after being informed of it through this survey, just another 6.9% wanted to download it, but 62.9% didn’t know, suggesting that there is quite a significantly proportion of Japanese internet users who are ignorant of Firefox’s existence.

Japan’s market share of Firefox is higher than anywhere else in Asia, but we’re still lagging far behind in comparison to Europe (where my colleague Jane Finette shares that the most recent numbers from Xitimonitor.com say that 34% of Europeans are using Firefox) or the US, where Firefox is closing on 20% market share (NetApplications).

In the first 5 months of 2008 we’ve seen very good growth in Japan, which is heartening to see, but we clearly have a lot more to do to make people aware that there is choice in browsers and that Firefox 3 is the faster, safer choice.  There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Firefox 3 party in Taiwan – July 19

MozTW.org, the wonderful Mozilla community in Taiwan, is hosting a “Firefox Party 3.0” on July 19th in Taipei. I wish I could be there! I won’t mention the awesome anime robot.  If you are in Taiwan, don’t miss it!

Firefox Partya3.0

Firefox Partya3.0

Firefox Partya3.0

Firefox Partya3.0