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UPDATED: December 7, 2009 NO. 49 DECEMBER 10, 2009
Browsing to the Max
A Beijing-based Web browser is gaining global market share. Among every 1,000 Internet users around the world, 13 use Maxthon


A NEW START: Maxthon International Ltd. CEO Chen Mingjie (left) at the launch party for the company's R&D Center on October 28 (ORIENTAL BONANZA) 

On October 28, just one day before the Internet's 40th birthday, Beijing-based technology firm Maxthon International Ltd. announced the establishment of China's largest browser research and development center.

Net Applications, the most quoted Internet research organization, recently listed the company's Maxthon Browser as one of the world's most popular browsers.

Net Applications' statistics show that as of November, Maxthon Browser was one of the six most popular browsers in terms of global market share. Only five others— Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome and Opera—had global shares larger than that of Maxthon. The company's software accounted for 1.25 percent of the global browser market, exceeding that of Netscape and coming close to that of Opera. Among every 1,000 Internet users around the world, 13 use Maxthon.

Maxthon Browser's visibility surged after Net Applications changed the way it counted browser use from reporting raw numbers to weighting by a country's number of Internet users. The change was made in August.

"This change produces a much more accurate view of worldwide usage share statistics," the company said.

Emerging global player

A Web browser is a software application that allows users to access the World Wide Web. The first Web browser was designed and built by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991. A number of browsers were released in the 1990s, which vied for dominance. After fierce wars with its rivals, in particular Netscape, Microsoft's IE browser won the competition in the late 1990s, thanks to some extent to the company's strategy to bundle IE with its Windows operating system.

Today, IE remains the dominant browser worldwide, though its market share has been gradually eroded by other browsers since 2003. In 2010, IE will be unbundled from Windows editions being sold in Europe.

"The unbundling of IE from the European Windows editions in 2010 will break its monopoly and bring new opportunities in the worldwide browser market," said Chen Xiaoxu, Director of the new Maxthon R&D Center, at the ZOL Software Summit 2009 in Beijing.

Chen said strong competition led Maxthon to create the center, which will create more new technologies to meet challenges. Maxthon's goal is to develop an R&D center capable of competing internationally in a couple of years, Chen said.

The center has an initial capital investment of more than 2 million yuan ($300,000). It has more than 30 researchers and developers who have obtained two patents and are applying for patents covering several other new technologies. The center plans to expand to include a staff of 100.

According to Maxthon, the center will provide support to Chinese-made browsers in addition to those developed by Maxthon itself. It will also expedite the development of a variety of Internet technologies in China, including Web page display and security.

Maxthon browser is available to tens of millions of active users in more than 120 countries and regions in 37 languages. The company's browser took 22 percent of the Chinese market, behind only IE, according to information on Maxthon's website. Experts estimate that there are more than 100 well-known browsers in China. The China Internet Network Information Center reported that, in the first half of 2009, there were more than 338 million Chinese Internet users, with about 9 million of those using Maxthon's product.

In overseas markets, Maxthon boasts the largest share of users in Russia. The company recently established strategic cooperative relations with Yandex, the world's largest search engine in the Russian language, and Europe's second largest search engine overall. Maxthon will provide more localized and better browsing experience for its Russian users.

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