“Compared with a year ago,  how do you think of the Chinese browser market right now?” I asked Dr. GONG Li, the CEO of Mozilla China yesterday at his office, “Still a mess, even more complicated than before”, Gong answered.

the Market players

Maxthon used to be the No.1 local browser in China, but now it has been replaced by 360 Browser. Sogou Browser (SOHU’s product) is getting popular as well. “Firefox’s doing OK in China, takes 5%-10% market share according different web stats source”, Gong said, “either you have a powerful distribution channel or you have a truly good technology, you have the chance to win the market.”

Thanks to 360 Anti-virus software which is hugely popular in China because it’s free, 360 Browser describes itself as the most safe web browser and becomes the No.1; Sogou Chinese input software is probably the most downloaded input software for Chinese, and it has Sogou Browser bundled which makes it popular too, and Sogou Browser also describes it as the Fastest one. Both Sogou and 360 are based on IE core. And for Firefox, obviously, it’s truly built on some cutting-edge technology. “Why Maxthon and some other local browsers’ market share is shrinking, because the distribution channel and technology they don’t have either of them.” Gong said.

Almost all the big guys have released their browsers, including Baidu as the late comer. “At least at this stage, they are competing with each other on their distribution channels, not really the product itself.” Gong commented.

Firefox in China

Firefox is well compatible with standard like HTML5 but with that it can not please the local market. One of the biggest issues for Firefox here is the online banking. All the online banking systems only support IE-core based browsers. “We have been working with banks such as Construction Bank of China for quite a long time, but till now, we are still waiting for the final launch. ” Gong said, “the bank is open and wants to work with us, but as the majority of local users are using IE which is the bank’s dev team has to focus on. So even we have worked out the solution, when it comes a bug at the testing stage, it takes long time to get it fixed.” If the online banking issue can be solved, it sounds like a great breakthrough for Firefox in China.

Furthermore, Firefox is working closely with popular sites like Taobao, to make sure the best user experience can be guaranteed. And started from this year, Firefox also spent more effort to drive local communities and organizes events in different cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Haerbin etc.

Firefox in Mobile

The mobile market is super hot. “If Firefox can’t not do anything now on the mobile space in China, the opportunity might be gone soon.” I said to Gong, and he agreed. “But there is not much we can do with our local team”, Gong said, “We actually have talked to a few phone manufacturers in China since a year ago, but there is one critical issue they wanted us to solve but we can’t, the support of Flash. We need wait for our international team to sort it out.”