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Browser, Mobile & Software Discussion of IDNs & browsers such as Microsoft IE, mobile cell phones, or other software

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Old 17th October 2009, 09:41 AM
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Chinese browsers are putting the heat on Internet Explorer

http://business.globaltimes.cn/indus...09/465112.html

By Zhao Qian

Microsoft melting

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.

"According to my research, nearly 96 percent of China's Internet users have used an IE browser at some time in their lives, but only 50 percent of them keep to it regularly now," Ding Li, an iResearch analyst who collected the data told the Global Times. Ding added that a Microsoft insider told him that the company's market share in China dropped again in the first half of 2009, but "the exact percentage hasn't been disclosed."

Ding also added that, before Maxthon and Tencent TT were launched in China in 2004 and 360 Secured Browser was available in 2008, the Microsoft IE browser was king with only a small number of users opting for other foreign browsers such as Firefox or Opera.

Finding a niche

Ding said the Chinese browsers are chipping away at Microsoft's dominance by finding unique niches and "adopting advanced techniques and updating their products continuously."

For instance, the 360 Secured Browser is known for its strong anti-virus software.

"Safety has become a top priority for people when choosing a browser," Qihoo360 President Qi Xiangdong told the Global Times. "The 360 Secured Browser uses its ‘isolation mode' to block any Trojan horse virus."

Maxthon, another domestic browser brand in China, also features its own technical triumphs popular with Chinese users, Ding said.

Maxthon's Online Favorites function that allows users to bookmark their favorite sites and access them from any computer and its automatic form filling function both make it popular, Ding said.

Chen Mingjie, CEO of Maxthon, told the Global Times that his company is negotiating with some Chinese online shopping websites, including taobao.com, "we have cooperated (deal not done yet) with some online shopping websites including taobao.com to help them safeguard their online transactions."

"We are also developing a new generation of browser called 3.x which will enable users to browse websites a dozen times more quickly than before," Chen added.

Numbers matter

The Tencent TT browser developed by Tencent, whose QQ software is the most popular free instant messaging computer program in China, is banking on its popularity to push the TT. QQ already has more than 300 million users at present.

"Its users are Tencent's most prominent advantages," Ding said. "If TT can combine QQ software with its Tencent TT browser, it may become a browser with the biggest amount of users in the future."

But older users, those born before the 1960s, still prefer the IE browser, because they have less interest in the newly developed browsers and it is the browser they are most familiar with, said Ding,

"Most of our users were born between the 1970s and the 1990s and we are trying to attract those born before the 1960s to use our Maxthon browser," said Chen.

Localization

In addition to IE, there are other overseas developed browsers used in China, including Norway-based Opera, Google's Chrome and Firefox, although they haven't become very popular due to cultural differences.

"The page and function setup for Firefox doesn't cater to Chinese user habits," Ding said. "And the users need to download the program and install some plug-in units by themselves before using Firefox. So it's not popular with Chinese users," said Ding.

While Opera claims it has the "fastest browser on earth," it has a stronger market share on mobile phones, personal digital assistants and smartphones, said Ding

Chinese users don't spend a lot of time "playing with" browsers; they just want them to be quicker, safer and easier to use, said Maxthon's Chen. "Even though Google's browser uses many of the most advanced technologies from all over the world, it still hasn't gained popularity in China. Some Google Chrome functions aren't even compatible with some Chinese websites."
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