Category Archives: browser

bad news on web browsers in China

Two pieces of news regarding web browsers in China, unfortunately neither of them good news.

China Tech News is reporting that Kingsoft, a software security package, and 360 Browser, which purports to be a more secure browser from Qihoo, are no longer working together as they had claimed to do earlier this year.

Browser War: China’s 360, Kingsoft Cease Tech Security Cooperation

While I haven’t been to the mainland recently (since 2007 in fact) I think a lot of the problems around software security and piracy are still par for the course.  That two “security” software vendors can’t work together just means that the user loses.  Kingsoft also claimed to be working with Maxthon earlier this year, Kingsoft, Maxthon To Jointly Develop Secure Browser- we’ll see if that ends up a better partnership than with Qihoo.

Then there is more ominous news from the BBC and The Register regarding the fact that Opera has forced all users of Opera Mini in China to use the Chinese language Mini. This comes with a new proxy server that is filtering access to websites like Facebook and Twitter, which used to be accessible.

Opera web browser ‘censors’ Chinese content


Opera plugs hole in Great Firewall of China

In fact Twitter users in China were complaining of this a few days before the BBC article was posted. There’s a lot to dislike about this outside of the fact that it looks like Opera is working with the Chinese government to filter the web for Chinese users. It also means that if you are an expatriate in China, and you’re more comfortable with an English interface for your web browser, you can’t use Opera Mini in English in China.

This is a sad day for the open web in China.

Open Source as a Model for Business Is Elusive

While this is ostensibly about European Union politics, I wanted to make sure that Planet readers saw this interesting Ashlee Vance story in the NY Times on business models in open source software that mentions Mozilla and Firefox.

Open-source software has thrived and played a prominent role in the building of the Internet’s infrastructure. Many companies rely on Linux-based computers and Apache Web server software to display their Web pages. Similarly, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser has emerged as the most formidable competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The grass-roots nature of open source has led advocates to view the projects as a populist foil to proprietary software, where a company keeps the inner workings of its applications secret.

But in the last decade, open-source software has become more of a corporate affair than a people’s revolution.

In some cases, dominant technology companies have used open-source projects as pawns. Google, for example, has needled Microsoft by providing financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees of the development of Firefox. I.B.M. has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows and other proprietary operating systems.

Open Source as a Model for Business Is Elusive

iconpillows

via Throwboy

Firefox

Mozilla

Browsers Icon Pillows

In this last image there is one prominent browser conspicuously missing…

web browser marketshare in China

This news is a week old but I saw some fascinating news on browser marketshare in China via Global Times: Chinese browsers are putting the heat on Internet Explorer.


Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser, which once dominated the Chinese Internet world with 96 percent of the market, has seen its share shrink to 57.8 percent due to the growing popularity of domestic brands.

It’s the lowest level in Microsoft’s history in China as domestic brands such as Maxthon, Tencent TT and Qihoo360’s 360 Secured Browser now account for 31.1 percent of the country’s browser market, according to data by iResearch.

The 360 Secured Browser‘s share has increased 50 percent from each previous quarter for three consecutive quarters, with its market share currently at 8.4 percent, iResearch said.

I have more questions than when I started reading this article such as:

– What is “domestic” Chinese about browsers (Maxthon, TT Browser, Green Browser, 360 Secured, etc.) that are powered by the Trident layout engine used in Internet Explorer, which is designed, developed and distributed by Microsoft Corporation from Redmond, Washington, USA?

Japanese browser wrapper providers like Lunascape and Sleipnir also claim to be “Japanese” when similarly the core layout technology of those browsers is made by Microsoft or Mozilla or Webkit (Apple/Google). There is nothing “Japanese” about those browsers except the “chrome.”

– If you add up the 57.8% that IE has, and the 31.1% that the Trident-based Chinese browsers have, you end up with 88.9% or basically 89% of the Chinese market uses the Trident layout engine.  So clearly it is still a struggle for a Webkit or Gecko based browser to gain market share in China if the majority of the web pages are probably coded for IE.  Once Trident-based browsers lose more than 15-20% share, web compatibility usually stops becoming an issue.

-What makes 360 Secured Browser more secure than other browsers? Are there real security features that 360 Secured has that other browsers do not?  Or is it merely marketing?

– What makes the Chinese users so different that Firefox is “culturally different” and therefore harder to use for Chinese users when Firefox is often very popular in just about every other country across the globe?

There is so much about the China market that is unique for many reasons, be it at the network level where the main networks in the country (China Netcom, China Unicom, Chinese university network) do not peer, or the Green Dam Youth Escort, or the Golden Shield Project. But even at the browser level, China’s Internet market is quite different than any other.

I’d welcome your thoughts on what makes the Chinese market interesting and unique and what Mozilla should do to better address the China market.

challenges for the iPhone in Korea

Bear with me here as this is more of an Open Web issue and less a Firefox issue.

iPhone in Korea
iphone on sale in korea!

As many of you know if you had read my 2007 post on the cost of monoculture, (Slashdotted and Digged to the front page) or the update on the cost of monoculture, you know that South Korea is alone in the world as a nation that does not use TLS/SSL for online transaction encryption. What that means in practice is that 99% of South Koreans use IE because they cannot do any secure transaction online (i.e. Internet banking, stock trading, ecommerce, e-government, etc.) without a Microsoft Windows operating system and the Internet Explorer web browser.

So I read with some interest recently when I saw that KT (Korea Telcom) and maybe SK Telecom (?) is probably going to launch the iPhone 3GS in Korea soon: IPhone Has Mobile Operators Punching Calculators. The question that immediately came to mind is this:

if South Korean websites cannot do any secure transaction without ActiveX, which is not supported on the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser, what use is the iPhone in Korea? What good is a mobile browser on the iPhone in Korea if you cannot do any secure transaction with it?

This detail has not been covered by any of the media that has been covering the potential for the iPhone in Korea.  I would very much appreciate any comments from South Koreans on how the iPhone can be successful in Korea if it cannot be used for any secure transactions.  Or does this mean that Korean web services will start implementing support for SSL?  Will the iPhone break open the IE-dominated web of Korea?

My friend Changwon Kim thinks that it may have to do with the fact that the Korean carriers will get little-to-no benefit from users who buy iPhones because all of the purchases on the iPhone will be at iTunes or the Apple App Store.

Out of fear to become “dumb bit pipes”, Korean wireless carriers have been working so hard to transform themselves into digital content empires by acquiring content companies and building a tight control over the content value chain. But iPhone is all about getting out of carrier value chain: web browsing on WiFi networks or App Store downloads have nothing to do with carriers. So the fact that the carriers haven’t yet fully recouped their massive content investment might be the true reason, or at least part of the reason, why Korea still doesn’t have an iPhone yet.

I’m very curious to see what the reaction will be to the iPhone in Korea when it launches. Especially the part where Korean users won’t be able to do any of the things they normally do with their laptops or desktop PCs such as buy stocks, online banking, – anything that requires a secure transaction.

Ubiquity – Command the Web with Language

Mitcho‘s presentation on the localization of Ubiquity at Tokyo 2.0 last night is up on Vimeo: Ubiquity: Command the Web with Language 言葉で操作する Web.

Ubiquity: Command the Web with Language 言葉で操作する Web from mitcho on Vimeo.

Slides here on SlideShare

Mekhala browser, Moyura mail, KhmerOS

One of the serendipitous connections I made recently in Malaysia was with Chantra Be of the KhmerOS project, who are providing a completely localized operating system and applications to computer users in Cambodia, who have never been provided a localized computer operating system in the past.

KhmerOS is based on Open Suse Linux and also ships with a Gecko-based browser called Mekhala and a Gecko-based mail client called Moyura.

Mekhala - Khmer browser

Moyura - Khmer mail client

Via Chantra, the KhmerOS team is considering whether they might be willing to help Mozilla with a Khmer localization for Firefox and Thunderbird as well. This would be for post 3.5. More information when I have more to share.

how to make your own Gecko reflow video

Last May, my colleague Doug Turner happened across some videos showing how the Gecko engine does reflow: What is a reflow? < DougT’s Blog

In fact, Doug had stumbled across the work of Satoshi Ueyama (Japanese), a programmer extraordinaire from Japan, who had presented those videos at the Mozilla 24 event in Tokyo in 2007.

Many people were rightly fascinated by watching the process by which a web page is laid out. Being an open source web page rendering engine, Gecko is one of the few platforms where one can modify the source code to do interesting applications such as this.

I asked Ueyama-san to provide additional information on how anyone could do this themselves and he’s kindly provided some instructions and updated his modified Gecko build for anyone to make such a video.

I have rewritten the animation generating program for the latest (FF3.1b3) Gecko / Shiretoko builds.

The updated video is available on YouTube:

First, build Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 with my modified layout module, which can be found under the ‘layout’ folder in the attachment.

Then run the build to output a layout progress log as C:\mozilla-build\log\out.txt.

You can change the destination with a constant in VisualizeLogger.cpp.

This time the log processing program is written in ActionScript.

Paste part of your log file in LogSource.as and compile ReflowAnimation.as with mxmlc to generate a Flash movie.

To make a movie in MPEG format, compile CaptureDump.mxml for Adobe AIR and run it.

This generates PNG files for each frame under C:\mozilla-build\log\frames.

Now you can convert them to a MPEG movie with ffmpeg.

Sorry for my rough explanation!

A big, big thank you to Satoshi for presenting on Gecko reflow back in 2007 and again for providing an update for Shiretoko as well as the files needed for anyone to do this on their own.

If you make your own Gecko reflow video, please paste a link to it in the comments of this post. Satoshi and other Mozilla developers and community members would be interested to see how Gecko reflows your website.

Firefox in Thailand

How is Firefox doing in Thailand?

Considering that Firefox was not localized into the Thai language until Firefox 3.0.2 in September of 2008, about half a year ago, the trends are looking good.

Firefox is solidly at 9% market share and poised to cross 10% soon if the trends hold.

IE 6 and IE7 combined still hold 86% market share in Thailand, but considering that there has been a Thai-language Firefox for less than 6 months, we should see more growth in Firefox users in Thailand throughout 2009.

Thailand Firefox usage

This is data from truehits.net, which is a Thai net statistics company that is aggregating data from Thai websites. I don’t know the details of truehits.net’s methodologies (they claim 1.1 million unique IPs, 3 million visitors and 92% of their traffic from in Thailand) or which sites they are aggregating data from, but I’m more inclined to trust a business that is in Thailand, focused on Thai users, than NetRatings or other non-Thai services that probably do not understand the market in Thailand at all.

Thai Firefox localizer and community organizer Keng is leading an effort to get a Mozilla Thailand community site up in April.  If you would like to contribute or help, please contact Keng.

Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

Ancient proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Surprising news from South Korea – Google and Yahoo working together.

The Korea Times: Google, Yahoo United in Map Services.

This would be unheard of anywhere else in the world where Google and Yahoo are the fiercest of competitors. However in Korea, where Naver is the market leader (75% market share), and Daum second, Google and Yahoo are not relevant for most Korean web users (with perhaps the exception of Flickr, which is available in Hangul, and YouTube. UPDATE: not even YouTube is popular in Korea.)

The two global giants have been stressing the need for creating an “open environment” in Web services, obviously to compete with Naver’s massive walled garden, and Google Korea managing director Lee Won-jin said his company’s partnership with Yahoo is an extension of those movements.

“Korean Web portals have a reputation for their closed services, and this has been hurting innovation in the Korean Internet industry,” Lee said.

“The sharing of content between us and Yahoo could mark an important first step toward an open Web environment in the Korean Internet sector and inspire innovation,” he said.

Personally, I think the fact that there is only 1 web browser used in Korea is a larger issue than anything related to specific content.  How do you launch next-generation web-based applications if the only browser you can code for is IE6/7?  For example, maybe you have a new mapping application that has embedded videos (where have I heard this before?) but tests show that the service is significantly slower in Internet Explorer, even the shiny newest version. As a web/web apps developer you know there are browsers that are significantly faster or more standards-compliant or have add-ons functionality but your users in Korea can’t use anything but IE, because nothing in Korea works besides IE for any website that requires a secure connection.

So Korea, which was the earliest nation to launch real broadband, is now stuck in a sea of Microsoft-only operating systems and software.  What kind of Internet is it when you can have 1 Gbps broadband in Korea with no choice of operating system or web browser?

If Korean Internet businesses were truly interested in an “open environment” in Korea, they would work together to change the monoculture of the web browser in KoreaMicrosoft Windows and Internet Explorer That Koreans are forced to use a particular computer operating system and web browser for the Internet is the true “walled garden” of Korea.