Category Archives: Internet Explorer

Why South Korea is really an internet dinosaur

2012 update to the 2007 Cost of Monoculture in Korea


The Economist explains: Why South Korea is really an internet dinosaur

Last year Freedom House, an American NGO, ranked South Korea’s internet as only “partly free”. Reporters without Borders has placed it on a list of countries “under surveillance”, alongside Egypt, Thailand and Russia, in its report on “Enemies of the Internet”. Is forward-looking South Korea actually rather backward?

2012 update to the 2007 Cost of Monoculture in Korea

Back in 2007, I published the cost of monoculture, a blog post that was the first English-language explanation of the situation in South Korea where a series of independent decisions created a de facto monopoly for Microsoft Internet Explorer. The blog post was widely covered in 2007, in Salon, Slashdot, Boing Boing, etc.
Fast forward 5+ years to the late part of 2012 and basically nothing has changed. In fact, things are so bad in Korea that a candidate for the President of Korea, Ahn Cheol-soo, has taken the position that if he were voted in, he would abolish the laws that have locked Korea to Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Ahn Pledges To Wipe Out South Korea’s Outdated Internet Encryption Rule – Korea Real Time – WSJ

Internet Explorer becomes Korean election issue • The Register

Sure this candidate is from the IT/software field, but the fact that his platform has this position says that this is still a painful issue for most people in Korea today. It’s stunning that the Korean government has not proactively moved away from Active-X plugins when Microsoft themselves are deprecating this technology in Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10.


browser competition in Korea in 2012

The Korea Times has a new article on the popularity of Google Chrome in Korea.

In Korea, though Internet Explorer is still overwhelming other top browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Maxthon, Chrome is beginning to emerge as a possible contender.

In April 2011, 91.93 percent of Korean users used Internet Explorer, while only 4.33 percent used Chrome. Some had never even heard of others browsers used overseas.

In April this year, Chrome accounted for 13.88 percent of domestic users, the only browser to reach the double digits to challenge Internet Explorer’s 78 percent.

Chrome gaining fast against Explorer

While it’s encouraging to see that browser competition in Korea is changing, I don’t understand this comment about “toolbars.”

Another downside of Internet Explorer, besides the need to agree to an authorized certificate for monetary transactions is the need to install toolbars. To access popular Web portals such as Naver or Daum, users are required to install provided toolbars, which are now considered cumbersome by those who have other new options open to them.

Chrome has the advantage of not needing tool bars, unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, among others.

I don’t understand the requirement to download a toolbar in order to access a website. Is this a real requirement or just an attempt by the portal to push their toolbar onto the user? Maybe my Korean readers can help explain this?


Firefox at 16 percent share in Thailand

Jon Russell at the Asian Correspondent points us to a Bangkok Post article, Internet use increases but Thai sites lagging behind, covering statistics on Internet usage in Thailand taken from (a Thailand-based firm tracking many key statistics.)

For web browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer controlled a 65.6% share last year, a decline of 13 percentage points from 2009. Mozilla’s Firefox increased its share from 2.7% to 15.9%, while Google Chrome rose from 8.4% to 11.8%.

Truehits also provided a list of the top 10 Thai websites which are:,,,,,,,,, and

Firefox and the open web in the Philippines

I don’t have much to say because Chin says it better than I can.

Manila Standard Today — Firefox and the open Web — 2011/january/11

Curiously, Firefox has been the number one browser in the Philippines for a year now, even without such a measure in place.

In December 2009, Firefox held a commanding 61.57 percent of the Philippine browser market, while IE, at second place, accounted for only 25.27 percent.

A year later, Firefox was still number one, at 45.42 percent, but lost market share to Google Chrome, which shot to second place with a 36.97 percent share in just one year. IE use had plummeted to only 14.4 percent of the market by December 2010.

As a long-time Firefox user, I have avoided the Chrome bandwagon for a number of reasons. Even if Firefox is not quite as fast, it has a rich set of features that I have grown to depend on, including extensions that enable me to customize the browser as I see fit. Also, the latest beta of Firefox 4 is pretty darned fast—though it is starting to look a bit too much like Chrome for my taste.

Another reason I have stuck by Firefox, even through the rough patches, is that I believe in the objectives of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation that makes the open source browser, which is to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web.

“As a non-profit organization, we define success in terms of building communities and enriching people’s lives instead of benefiting shareholders,” the foundation says on its Web site. “We believe in the power and potential of the Internet and want to see it thrive for everyone, everywhere.”

By this definition, Firefox doesn’t even need to be number one—it just needs to be big enough to influence Web trends.

In contrast, both Microsoft and Google want their browsers to be number one because this will add to their bottom line. Both will pay lip service to open standards, but it’s clear where their priorities lie.

I want a Web that is dominated by neither company, so I continue to choose Firefox.

For those of you who want to know more about the awesome Mozilla community in the Philippines, please visit

QQ vs 360 – on the Chinese Internet users lose

There are many aspects of the Internet in China that make it unique (see Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, a page that is no doubt blocked from view in China.)

  • state censorship of non-Chinese content via the Great Firewall
  • internal (to China) censorship of content by Chinese Internet companies
  • self-censorship that is a hallmark of any regime that does not have free speech laws

These are but 3 of the many differences of the Internet in China vs. elsewhere.

Sadly, there are non-censorship related issues around commercial software vendors and their competitive practices that are terrible for Chinese Internet users.  The most recent battle on the Chinese Internet is between Tencent, who’s QQ brand has over 600 million users of their instant messaging service, and 360 an ‘anti-virus’ software company that has 300 million clients installed and is so aggressive as to cross the line (in my opinion) of marking legitimate software as “viruses” if they are competitive with any software that 360 also provides.

If I had to put this in Western terms, it would be as if Norton/Mcafee marked AOL Instant Messenger/Yahoo! IM/etc. as virus software.

360 vs QQ, Internet security company picks fight with China’s NO. 1 software giant
(the Japanese manga-style cartoons are a little disturbing)

EastSouthWestNorth has translations of key statements from QQ and a news report from MOP:

360 PK Tencent (10/31/2010) (MOP)

360 Is Hackerware (11/01/2010) (

China Tech News is reporting that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Public Security is now involved in this corporate dispute without any resolution to date.

Qihoo 360: Chinese Government Interferes In Tencent Internet Dispute

And today, Tencent (QQ) has issued an ultimatum to it’s 600 million users that users of QQ cannot use 360’s anti-virus software.

Tencent threatens its users with an ultimatum

China’s Internet users have so many challenges to deal with, from the state, to the companies that run Chinese Internet services, that corporate in-fighting between Chinese application providers (who are not even directly competing with each other) should be the last straw.

My opinion? If you are an Internet user in China, switch to Linux or Mac OS and get off Windows, because Chinese application providers only build for Windows and thus getting off Windows means getting rid of the need for Chinese applications altogether.  You won’t have these problems with open source software.

Mozilla at Future Web Forum 2010 – Korea

Just a quick note to those who might be in Seoul this week that Mozilla will be co-sponsoring the Future Web Forum 2010 event on HTML 5 on November 3rd.  Mitchell Baker and I spoke at this event in 2008 with Vint Cerf.  Channy Yun, who leads the Mozilla Korea community will be speaking about the HTML5 support in Firefox 4.  This is the premier event covering the web browser space in Korea and we are glad to see a focus on HTML5 in Korea.

Firefox in Thailand – 2010 update

In preparation for attending and participating in BarCamp Bangkok 4 later this month, I wanted to get a quick update as to the status of Firefox in Thailand.

As of September 2010,, a Thai-based statistics firm has this data for browser market share in Thailand.

Thailand browser market share (

I don’t know enough about’s methodologies, their sample size, etc. but if we take them at face value, the breakdown is as such:

  • 75.16% on Internet Explorer (either 6, 7 or 8 )
  • 15.25% on Firefox (from Mozilla’s internal data, 83% on Firefox 3.6, 13% on Firefox 3.5, yes I know that does not add up to 100%)
  • 6% on Chrome
  • 1.6% on Safari.

Looking at the trends from, Firefox hit 15% share in December of 2009 and then dropped 4% points in 1 month and has slowly gained all of that back in 2010. It’s not clear what could have caused such a drastic drop in share in 1 month other than a change in how the data was taken.

Google Chrome has been growing steadily since launch.  In August of 2010, Google did a Chrome marketing event promoting the Thai version of Chrome, (Google Chrome set to make mark in Thailand, Google Chrome for Thai users) and that may also contribute to Chrome’s growth.

William, Dietrich and I will all be at BarCamp Bangkok 4 and are looking forward to hearing from Firefox users in Thailand as well as those who used to use Firefox and may not use it anymore. Whatever browser you use, we hope to see you there too!

Korean banks starting cross-browser services

Just a quick note to those who are interested in a status update from Korea. Kim Tong-hyung writes in the Korea Times that a number of major Korean banks are moving towards e-banking systems that will be cross-browser compatible vs. what is available today, which is IE.

The short story is that online banking with Firefox or Chrome is still a long-way off, but we can now foresee such a future, whereas before the changes by the Korea Communication Commission (KCC), such a future was impossible to consider.

“There have been complaints from computer users with non-IE browsers and our goal is to provide our Internet banking services to those with any browser,’’ said an IBK [Industrial Bank of Korea] official.

Existing local regulations require all encrypted online communications to be based on electronic signatures that are enabled through public-key infrastructures. And since the fall of Netscape in the early 2000s, Microsoft’s Active-X technology, used on its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browsers, remains the only plug-in tool used to download public-key certificates onto computers.

This prevented users of non-Microsoft browsers such as Firefox and Chrome from banking and purchasing products online. And computer security experts have also claimed that public-key certificates don’t add anything to security beyond a simple password gateway, which make them worse than useless as they create the illusion of safety where there is none.


Pressured by the calls to provide more flexibility in Internet security technologies, the Korea Communication Commission (KCC) announced it would allow other verification methods besides public-key certificates for protecting encrypted communication, which motivated companies like Woori Bank to differentiate.

Woori Bank’s new Internet banking system appears to be well-received, with the bank garnering 40,000 new customers just a month into the changes. And with a variety of banks, including IBK, Shinhan, Kookmin and SC First Bank, already providing non-Microsoft online banking services for smartphones, the transition toward an open Internet banking structure appears to be gaining pace.

Online banking wiggles out of Microsoft chokehold (The Korea Times)

Browser nail art

Japanese girl blogger, Mamipeko, has browser icons custom painted onto her nails. The nail artist only knew the IE icon, sadly.


Tweetup Japan 2010
Photo by Pietro Zuco.

Photo by Mamipeko.

via Asiajin and tuttie-cutie.