is reporting that China-based web browser Maxthon has sold a minority stake to Google, rumored to be around $1 million. More importantly Techcrunch is "also hearing that this investment is part of a Äúmuch larger strategic dealÄ? between the two companies." Maxthon is a powerful tabbed, fully customizable and 100% free Internet browser built on top of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) platform.Techcrunch
Read/WriteWeb has covered Maxthon a few times and frankly, this news of Google cozying up to Maxthon comes as no surprise to me. For one thing, as Gang Lu first reported for R/WW at the beginning of the year, Maxthon reportedly has 30% of the browser market in its home country of China, second only to IE and ahead of Firefox. In a follow-up R/WW post in mid-January, we noted that Maxthon is probably more of a threat to Firefox than it is to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Which makes this news that Google has possibly partnered with Maxthon very intriguing. Google already has a very cuddly relationship with Mozilla and recently we've noted here how Firefox's developments (e.g. offline browsing, being an information broker) will turn out to be very favourable to Google long-term. Those Firefox developments literally play to Google's strengths - as they enhance the functionality of web apps. So for Google to now turn its amorous attentions to Maxthon, will likely cause a little pique in the Mozilla camp. Who is this Microsoft-based upstart, eyeing up my Google? (Mozilla will be saying)
However there are striking similarities between Firefox and Maxthon. Both have strong developer support and are grass roots movements. What is particularly attractive about Maxthon though, for Google, is its global presence - particularly in China. As we mentioned before, Maxthon is the only Chinese Internet Software company with a global presence. So with its success in China and the impressive features in Maxthon 2.0, Maxthon is ready for the worldwide market. They are growing very fast globally, especially in the US, and a lot of the new users are young. All of this is probably very enticing to Google, which wants a global presence, strong developer support, and more young users. Not to mention that the default search engine right now in Maxthon is Yahoo, which will no doubt change to Google with this deal.