A Chosun Ilbo columnist (a leading Korean news provider), Kim Ki-cheon, has an op-ed regarding the Microsoft monoculture in Korea:
Korea’s Internet Is Mired in a Microsoft Monoculture
Korea is at the cutting edge in technology, the state of the art in e-commerce, an early adopter of third-generation wired and wireless communication, broadband and personal media. Yet 99.9 percent of computer users are on Microsoft Windows. Mac users cannot bank or shop online, nor do these users have access to government websites. The same goes for users of Linux, the free user-generated OS, and those using Mozilla Firefox or Opera to browse the web.
The observation comes from an early 2007 entry on a Japanese blog, written shortly after the blogger’s disappointing visit to Korea. It is not an unfair assessment nor is it borne of jealousy. Korea’s Internet monoculture has been a subject of concern here for some time and remains an issue. In a recently published book, Kim Ki-chang, a professor at Koryo University, says that Korea’s Internet environment is so unsound that nothing like it can be found in any other country in the world.
What is the problem? For one thing, accessing many Korean websites requires jumping through hoops not found anywhere else in the world. This may mean installing unfamiliar software programs, one to ensure secure access, another to protect against keystroke tracking, another for personal firewall protection, and on top of that, an antivirus program, all to be able to do some banking online. Nowhere else are websites so complicated and inconvenient.
It is also a uniquely Korean peculiarity that the programs needed for access to secure websites are compatible only with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Many are based on the ActiveX framework from Microsoft. And while there exist other technologies that perform the same function, none are in use in Korea. As a result, web browsers such as Firefox used by over 20 percent of users worldwide have no presence here.
Not much new here that has not been covered by me in the past but it is news to me that Kim Keechang has published a book on this topic.
As reported by a number of sources including the WSJ, Facebook and Twitter Founders Join Net Neutrality Wars, Mozilla has signed a pro-Net Neutrality letter (pdf) that was sent to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski. Please view the letter to see the 24 signers of this letter of support including John Lilly of Mozilla.
October 19, 2009
The Honorable Julius Genachowski, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
We write to express our support for your announcement that the Federal Communications Commission will begin a process to adopt rules that preserve an open Internet. We believe a process that results in common sense baseline rules is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness.
An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail. This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest startup to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic growth and opportunity.
Just a quick note to let you know that the 2009 Firefox Developers Conference in Tokyo will be on Sunday, Nov. 8th
Firefox Developers Conference 2009 – アドオンで Web の未来を切り開く！
The theme of this year’s developer conference is Add-ons, including Jetpack. The event is free but registration is required. Mozilla’s Aza Raskin and Chris Blizzard’s keynotes will be in English, but the rest of the presentations will be in Japanese.
If you would like to attend but do not read/write Japanese, please leave a comment here and I can help get you registered. Hope to see you there!
UPDATE: for review, also take a look at the Firefox Developer Conference Summer 2007.
In this last image there is one prominent browser conspicuously missing…
Last week the Korea Times had a long piece on the unique issues around browser security and encryption technologies in Korea, Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture, which did not reference my original article, the cost of monoculture, but is updating the issues I raised in early 2007.
A few choice quotes:
But the land of ubiquitous broadband, feature-happy “smart” phones and ultra-cool computing devices doubles as a crusty regime where Linux, Firefox, Chrome and Opera users can’t bank or purchase products online, and where Mac users buy Windows CDs to prevent their devices being reduced to fashion items.
The bizarre coexistence of advanced hardware and an outdated user environment is a result of the country’s overreliance on the technology of Microsoft, the U.S. software giant that owns the Korean computing experience like a fat kid does a cookie jar.
Critics say the country would end up paying dearly for allowing a Microsoft monoculture to take hold, with consumers deprived of the freedom to choose newer and better products and the Web industry seeing its innovation compromised.
(Anyone want to send me a Steve Ballmer with cookie jar photoshop masterpiece? 🙂 )
The article goes on to cover a lot of the issues affecting web users in Korea and how many valiant efforts have gone into trying to affect change, most significantly the 3 lawsuits that Dr. Keechang Kim has brought against various Korean policy-making bodies, without success.
The newest effort of the open web community in Korea is openbank.or.kr, an effort to push/educate banking institutions in Korea to change their practices as many believe it is these consumer-facing services which are key to making real change happen for an open web in Korea.
Mozilla is committed to supporting the Koreans who are pushing for a competitive truly open web in Korea. If there is something that we should be doing in Korea to further support open web efforts, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment with your thoughts.
I, for one, look forward to a day when anyone in Korea can use any modern browser on any major consumer computer operating system to bank, purchase goods/services online, trade stocks, etc. without the need for a browser plugin.
Posted in Asia, community, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Korea, Linux, Microsoft, mobile, Mozilla, Netscape, open web, plugins, security
Cheng, who runs the excellent Thai blog Mhafai.com, and is one of Mozilla’s most active community members in Thailand, writes in with an update from Truehits.net, a Thai web statistics service that tracks among other things browser share.
In April 2009, we saw that Firefox was climbing steadily at about 9% market share.
The new update from Truehits.net tells us that we are now above 13% market share, having grown from 7.4% a year ago.
The bad news is that IE 6.0 still has over 40% share in Thailand and IE 7.0 has over 30% share. Both older versions of IE have been declining as Firefox and IE 8 have been growing, but not nearly as fast as we would hope.
The growth we are seeing in Thailand is largely due to the heroic efforts of our localization leader, Patipat ‘Keng’ Susumpow, and the community of testers and Mozilla developers, some who have been filing bugs for Thai-related issues since 2002.
We’ll be doing more in Thailand in 2009 and 2010 and would love to hear from Thai users as to what the important bugs are to fix and what Mozilla should consider doing to help Firefox grow in Thailand. Thanks to Keng, Cheng, Art, and all of the Thai Mozilla community members without which we would not have this growing user base.