This post is also edited and published on Read/WriteWeb, Thank you Richard.

Maxthon (formerly known as MyIE), a well-known browser in China, is a powserful tabbed, fully customzable and 100% free Internet browser built on top of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). Maxthon is the second most popular browser after the IE, its milesone Maxthon 2.0 beta was released early last month. Last night, we had an in-depth interview with Netanel Jacobsson (former Business Development Director of AOL/ICQ, now the SVP & Partner at Maxthon) who told us a full story of this exciting browser. 

User Community Created Maxthon

The interview was started with the history of Maxthon. Netanel said MyIE was created by a Chinese called Changyou who wanted to customize his IE. MyIE became the first browser support Tabbed browsing. Changyou posted most of the codes on his BBS but unexpectly left this project due to his personal reason in 2000. Luckily, one of his admirers Jeff Chen decided to continue the development and released a new version with the name MyIE2. MyIE2 started growing very fast with the massive contribution from its passionate users all over the world. They communicated via BBS, Forums and IMs and helped on developing the plugins, sites, skins and debugging, etc.

Firefox users are united because of their dislike of Microsoft, then Mozilla built and run a community to support it. Maxthon users are very passionate about this browser, they want more from IE so they formed a community and created/maintains Maxthon, Netanel said. 

MyIE2 is renamed to Maxthon in 2003, seed funded by the first Skype investor Morten Lund together with WI Harper Group in 2005. in 2006 Maxthon received a major investment by Charles River Ventures from US.

More than an Internet Explorer – The Features of Maxthon2 Beta

In early November, 2006, Maxthon 2.0 beta is released with complete re-designed UI and the core codes. Still, Maxthon 2.0 beta is fully compatible with Internet Explorer with some basic browsing funtionalities, it also provides many rich features to improve the surfing experience, some of the highlights are:

  • Advanced proxy function allows the use of different proxy for different web site automatically, ensuring the best browsing speed and web site accessibility.
  • User Interface Multi-Thread technology greatly reduces the chance of browser lockup, e.g. caused by some ajax operations, and browser crash.
  • Modular design loads only used components, ensuring the most efficient use of system resources.
  • Highly customisable skinning and interface system supports from simple windows classic to the most crafted skins and advanced layouts.
  • Ultra powerful filter system can filter not only any ads but also any malicious codes, removing web annoyances and improving browser safety.
  • Multi-users password protected profile system protects users privacy without compromising program portability.

    People always complains about the IE’s (even the newly released IE7’s) security issue, the performance and the incompliance with the standards. Netanel said Maxthon 2.0 beta provides Online Maxthon Security Updates to reduce the risks of certain un-patched Internet Explorer vulnerabilities, and Maxthon Smart Acceleration (MSA) technology significantly improves the browsing speed. Maxthon team is working hard to fully support Gecko engine which will be added to Maxthon 2.0 final version.

  • The Browser Market in China

    The Chinese browser market is shared by IE and Maxthon, and the Firefox is practically not presented in China. I asked Netanel about the 30% market sharing in China. Netanel said it’s actually very hard to give an exact figure to show how popular the Maxthon is in China because sometime the Maxthon is still recognized as the IE. We have 12 million active user monthly and over 73 million downloads from the world, Netanel said, There is no doubt Maxthon is the second after IE in China and I also hope the market sharing will be more than 30% very soon.

    The Revenue of Maxthon

    I asked Netanel about the revenue. Netanel said it is mainly from search but also from subscription services and donations and other business models would be introduced soon. It is very interesting to know that Maxthon is revenue postive since 2005 with stable business model and low burn rate – not many startups can match that today.

    Maxthon in year 2007

    Maxthon is actually the only Chinese Internet Software company with a global presense. With the success in China and the brilliant Maxthon 2.0, Maxthon is ready for the global market. Netanel said they were growing very fast globally now expecially in US, quite a lot new users were young which is a very good news. In 2007, Maxthon will be working actively with the local communities in US and Europe and start organising Maxthon meetups and developer conferences etc to officially show the power of Maxthon and announce its presence in the global market. We will bring the fresh air to the world in the coming new year, Netanel added.

    The Future of Maxthon

    Finally, I asked Netanel for the final release of Maxthon 2.0. Netanel said he hoped it could be sometime in the spring 2007. Netanel concluded by describing the Maxthon as a movement more than a product. With the support of the passionate world-wide user communities, Maxthon will be anywhere like the grass root movement.

    […] We can see that the role of the browser is changing and is becoming the focal point of customization and personalization. It is the place where users can choose and run their applciations and in this sense it is kind of taking over the role of the OS. […] Maxthon is going to become a major platform for the delivery of the new webservices and you can expect to see some interesting examples of this during 2007[…]. 

    See also: Read/WriteWeb’s Web Browser Faceoff