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Japanese browser maker takes on IE, Firefox

Fenrir wants to snare 5% of the browser market

By Martyn Williams
July 22, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - TOKYO -- A Japanese software company is stepping up international promotion of its Web browser in the hope of carving out a 5% share over the next few years of a market dominated by Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The Sleipnir browser is well-known among Japanese technophiles, many of whom value the high level of customization that the browser allows. At the center of this customization is the ability to select either the Trident or Gecko layout engines for each Web site visited. Trident was developed by Microsoft Corp. and is used in Internet Explorer while Gecko is used in Mozilla's Firefox.

As any user who has changed Web browsers knows, some sites look different or offer different functionality depending on the browser in use. By clicking a small button in the bottom left of the browser and switching between Trident and Gecko, users can choose the best one for the particular site.

Fenrir Inc., which is based in Osaka, began development of the browser in 2005 and has been offering an English version alongside its main Japanese version for sometime but decided to step up promotion overseas after noticing demand rising for the browser from international users, said Yasuhiro Miki, director of Fenrir's overseas marketing division.

"We'd like to focus on advanced users," he said.

In the next couple of years, Fenrir hopes to dramatically grow its user base from the current roughly 100,000 users to around 17 million, Miki said. That corresponds to about 5% of the English-speaking Web user base, he said.

In Japan, the browser has a 9% market share, according to Fenrir. No independent data to verify that claim is available, but a recent survey of 3,003 computer programmers published by Nikkei ITpro put Sleipnir's share at 6% among that group.

Initially, the focus is on the English-speaking market, but Fenrir has plans to look at other language versions, including Spanish and French.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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