By Mohseen Lala
I had opportunity to figuratively sit down with Karl Mattson, Vice President of Maxthon, and candidly talk about the browser and its future .
A Look Into The Future Of Maxthon
For the ones who do not know, Maxthon is an alternative to the usual array of big name browsers, such as Firefox, Chrome, Opera and even maybe Internet Explorer (I said maybe). Maxthon’s appeal lies in its ability to connect with almost any device, providing a singular experience for users across any range of devices. Except for Nokia Symbian smartphones, I asked, and they said no.
The idea behind the browser is pretty straightforward. You can access your pages, tabs, browser history and preferences as you left them, from device to device. It works across smartphones, tablets and of course PCs, with Android, iOS, Windows 8 and Mac OS X fully supported.
Sorry Linux fans, no cookie for you guys yet. Although I was assured that Maxthon would look into bringing their browser onto the free to use operating system someday.
Based on the mythical “cloud” that has become the industry’s biggest buzzword, Maxthon aims to provide a seamless and customized experience for users across any device, anytime. And how close are they to such a lofty goal? Let’s find out:
Me: Where does Maxthon see itself in the next two years?
Karl: Overall, within the next two years Maxthon will distinguish itself from its competitors as role model in the security, efficiency and personal-cloud storage space, acquiring an even larger and loyal user base that will continue driving its innovative approach as the browser of tomorrow.
Me: Will Maxthon as a browser ever considering taking a different focus once constantly connected web browsing becomes the absolute norm?
Karl: We’ve already started a new focus, in 2006 when we launched our first iteration of cloud services on our Windows browsers. The missing terms are ‘constantly connected using difference devices.’ The different device aspect is the source of many consumer pain points. This is something we’re mitigating with our Cloud Browser, a suite of browsers designed to give you a ‘pick up where you left off’ experience.
Me: Does Maxthon have any plans to appear on non-conventional platforms? Particularly Android based gaming consoles such as the OUYA or Project Shield?
Karl: We are always looking at new, as you say, ‘non-conventional’ platforms. And we do this with an eye toward where the growth will occur across the world. Gaming consoles are increasingly looking more like a home server/ multifunction connected device. We are in talks with at least one major gaming console.
Consoles based on Google OS, are also something we would investigate. Probably the biggest growth area for ‘non-conventional platforms’ is that of IPTV. We’re very close to a reality where what we once knew as ‘TV’ will be 100% mitigated through a high performance browser like Maxthon. As such we have been building and testing set-top box browsers for internet-enabled television for more than a year.
Me: Right now, the Windows version of Maxthon is more advanced than the Macintosh version, is there a plan to make sure these two platforms are equally up-to-date, or will there always be a one lagging behind the other?
Karl: Yes, the Windows version contains more feature than our Mac version. We just launched our Mac version less than a year ago, and on a very tight schedule. In short, we are planning to help our Mac version ‘catch up’ to our windows version. In 2 weeks we will launch one of our most popular Windows features on Mac — our ‘Ad Blocker’ feature, and more features similar are coming throughout the end of 2013.
Me: Why isn’t there a Linux version of Maxthon? And why wasn’t Linux integration considered during development?
Karl: There isn’t a current Linux version of Maxthon presently. Linux integration was strongly considered during our ‘Cloud Browser’ build process. However, due to the realities of finite resources and a very fast build cycle we ended up not having Linux as part of the launch of the ‘Cloud Browser.’
That will likely change, though as there are some interesting developments in the global PC market that point to global Linux growth brought on by the high licensing fees of Microsoft (MS just want an arm and a leg for everything, don’t they?) And what has been an across-the-board improvement in Linux OS user experience and software support.
Me: Is a Symbian version even remotely being considered?
Karl: We are not currently considering doing a Symbian version of Maxthon. We all know Symbian still enjoys very large global popularity, comparatively speaking, but the reality of developing for Symbian is tough — as many of Nokia’s smart phones used slightly branched versions of Symbian 60. This means we couldn’t do just ‘one’ version of Maxthon for say, Symbian 60. We would need to test and QA about ten.
Me: Is a revamp to the current private browsing system coming soon? And on all supported platforms or just some?
Karl: Yes, we plan to add many more features related to private and anonymous, trackless browsing, across all platforms to the best of their capabilities. However, as you know, you can do something in Android that you can’t do on iOS and vice versa.
Me: Final question, would Maxthon ever considering using its own servers to compress and read data, making page loads faster and easier for systems that are a slow or sport a limited internet connection?
Karl: In our view server-side compression is a ‘bridge’ solution made up of technology that will soon become obsolete as overall bandwidth speed increases globally. Plus, it’s an expensive game to get into with some thorny user experience issues. Bottom line, it is not a magic bullet to better performance. As such, we’re focusing on making the engine, the browser, faster in all use cases.
Well, that’s it for now folks, feel free to ask your own questions below in the comments section. I’ll do my best to answer them as factually as I can.