One of the speakers at the LIFT conference – where Kevin Marks from Google also presented – was Gen Kanai, Mozilla’s Director of business development in Asia. In his presentation Kanai talked about Mozilla’s market share in Asia, plus the perception that Asia isn’t contributing enough to open source projects.

Firstly there were some interesting factoids about Firefox market share. Firefox now has almost 28% market share in Eurpoe, 16-17% in US, and lower market shares in Asia — it’s 16.5% according to a recent post on Mozilla Links. See graphs below:

Firefox Global Market Share; Chart via Mozilla Links

Kanai said that Mozilla is “seeing a lot of growth in China”, after opening their China office last year (it’s being run by the former leader of MSN at Microsoft China). In Japan, Kanai said, there are more mobile users of the Internet than PC users, so it is a unique market for them. It currently has a 10-12% market share in Japan.

Mozilla structure in Asia

In Korea, Kanai told an interesting story about how the market for Firefox has been restricted by Korean govenment encyrption protocols, which make people use Windows and Internet Explorer! So Microsoft has a “de-facto monopoly” in Korea in the browser space.

Kanai then addressed the question of how strong the open source movement is in Asia, a topic recently explored by Victoria Ho on ZDNet Asia and by Mat Asay on CNET. The story so far is that Asia corporations are using open source, but (it’s claimed) are not giving back to the open source community. Linux founder Linus Torvalds recently said that the barriers are: culture (possibly the largest barrier), language, education. Kanai has more details on his blog.

Kanai believes there is actually a lot of participation in open source in Asia; he cited the Ruby language, which was developed in Japan by Yukihiro Matsumoto. However he acknowledged that cultural and language barriers are significant – e.g. he thinks the open source community in the West can be very forthright in their opinions, which is a cultural thing that open source developers in the East may not like. He also cited economic factors.

Here is the video presentation: