Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ActiveX makes smartphones stupid in Korea.

South Korea's reliance on ActiveX controls draws a lot of complaints from expats, especially those using browsers other than Internet Explorer. The JoongAng Daily looks at ActiveX in Korea vis-a-vis smartphones; an excerpt:
The number of smartphone users in Korea neared 1 million at the end of last year, with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Omnia 2 gaining popularity. However, smartphone users are having trouble whenever they try to use mobile banking services or shopping sites, since the browsers designed for smartphones are not equipped to handle ActiveX.

With the installment of ActiveX emerging as a problem domestically, experts are proposing alternatives. A team headed by researcher Kim Hyung-sik at Cambridge University recently released a study saying Korea’s Internet banking industry should allow users to choose whether to install the programs.

Local officials are looking into the issue as well.

“The discussion over whether using ActiveX is proper is underway at the Financial Supervisory Service as we look to resolve the problem of restricting electronic transactions on smartphones,” Choi Si-joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, said on Feb. 22 in the National Assembly.

Headline taken from a Joongang Sunday interview two days ago, which readers of Korean want to give a look.

The article also has a chart breaking down the market share of browsers overseas and in Korea. Worldwide 62% of people use a version of Internet Explorer, according to those stats from Market Share, whereas 98% in Korea use IE, with 50% of the total using IE6. I mentioned web browsers a little in this November 2009 post looking at some complaints people had with a website created, ironically, to help foreigners, and I wrote that Google Analytics told me a little less than 65% of my visitors over the past month arrived using something other than IE, a high number considering many people visit my site when they're at work in Korea, locked into using Internet Explorer when they otherwise might choose not to. I looked at my stats just now, and saw the numbers changed only slightly, with 42.5% of visitors using Firefox compared to 44.92 in November, and 33.93% using IE now compared with 35.59% then:

Of the users with Internet Explorer, 21.3% use IE6. Interesting to learn that 1.71% of my visits from February 13th through March 15th were on mobile devices. Thanks for the love, but even I don't love this site enough to try and read all that text on a phone or PSP.


willwayland said...


essential for firefox users in korea

infogoddess said...

I never use IE except for banking because I have no choice - firefox at home and google chrome at work (downloaded it myself)

This Is Me Posting said...

Thanks for that link, willwayland.

I was using IE Tab myself until it broke for FF 3.5. I made the switch to Coral IE Tab, but I haven't found it to work as well as the old IE Tab. Perhaps I'll switch over to IE View and see how well this one works.

Question: Why are you using IE View Lite over the regular IE View?

Ryan.G said...

“The discussion over whether using ActiveX is proper is underway at the Financial Supervisory Service"

Wake up Korea, there is no discussion. Almost everywhere else in the world does not have even a fraction of the reliance on ActiveX that Korea has. I have lived (and therefore banked) in 6 countries, and South Korea is the worst.

This Is Me Posting said...

Damn. IE View opens an IE browser outside of FF. Ugh. I'm sticking with IE Tab. IE inside FF > IE outside FF.

S. Frank Kim said...

Yeah, regular IE Tab doesn't work with Firefox 3.6, and I don't like Coral IE Tab. Fortunately, "experimental" IE Tab 2 has been working pretty well for me so far.


Stafford said...

I dunno, reading blogger pages on phones is reasonably OK with Google doing a good job of detecting what browser you use and formatting accordingly, in addition Opera Mobile does it's own magic to render pages reasonably logical.
However I'd have to say The PSP is probably the nicest mobile viewing scenario given it's big gorgeous high resolution screen.
That and an iPhone of course.
When I used Firefox I too would use IE Tab and its cousins but that too has its flaws.
Its not actually addressing the inability to use another browser per se, rather just opening an instance of IE within Firefox, meaning you still have to download Active X controls, and you are still vulnerable security wise, especially if you run IE Tab with IE 6.
Secondly if you use Firefox on a Mac you haven't got IE at all, least of all to run in an IE tab.
I would say KEB is reasonably on to things with the ability to do banking on a Mac (but then only in Safari leaving Chrome and Firefox users out)
This is what happens when you are an early adopter, but fail to get with the program when it changes