By Krishna Mukherjee
UC Browser, the mobile browser from UC Web has 13.69% market share worldwide, with 46.7% market share in India as of of April 2015, as per StatCounter.
The company is the first mobile browser to work with Facebook for faster access and push notifications.
In an interaction with Voice&Data, Kenny Ye, Managing Director, UCWeb Mobile, talks more about such tie-ups in India and about its plans to focus on localized content, adding more features to cater to consumers’ need.
Voice&Data: How has been the journey so far in India?
Kenny Ye: Since inception in 2004, UCWeb’s mission has been to provide better mobile Internet experience to billions of users. In June 2014, UCWeb fully merged into the Alibaba Group after years of partnership in the biggest deal in the history of the Chinese Internet industry.
As of April 2015, UC Browser reached 13.69% market share worldwide, according to StatCounter, becoming the 4th most popular mobile browser after Chrome, Safari and Android Browser. Unlike the top three mobile browsers, UC Browser does not come by default on Android or iOS, which means it’s the No.1 third-party mobile browser in the world. UC Browser is also the No.1 mobile browser in India with 46.7% market share, as of the end of April 2015, as per StatCounter.
India is our second headquarter and remains a critical market for us. We have recently announced the appointment of cricketer Yuvraj Singh as a Product Specialist and Brand Ambassador for UC Browser to reach out to new users and engage with our highly-active user base. UC Browser is also the leading mobile browser in China with over 65% of the market share and has witnessed strong growth in many other countries.
Voice&Data: How the Indian market differs from the other markets? (in terms of consumer demands, challenges etc)
Kenny Ye: India’s impressive growth rate of internet penetration coupled with large offline users presents a tremendous opportunity to bring new internet users online. With an average internet penetration rate of roughly 19%, it is the untapped segment that presents a massive opportunity for any company here.
The non-Internet user population is overwhelmingly rural and a high proportion is illiterate and female. This is starkly different from the population that has embraced the Internet so far – predominantly urban, higher income and literate. Many users in remote and rural areas will skip the PC and fixed-internet connections to go online on their mobiles. Changing pricing trends in smart-phones mean that more intuitive devices will be increasingly accessible.
The need of the hour is taming high cost of generating content, increased localised content & services, intuitive mobile applications, services with simple graphical interfaces, local language support and specific marketing tools for high-intensity users.
Voice&Data: Consumers these days look for affordable data plans and at the same time want to consume maximum data. In that kind of a scenario, what type of innovations are there on the cards from UCWeb?
Kenny Ye: We always try our best to bring users a fast and all-in-one browsing experience. We have been working closely with Facebook and to provide faster access to Facebook than any other player. Our tests show that UC Browser is 30%-65% faster than its competitors in terms of time consumed to load Facebook pages. Also, UC Browser users are able to receive real-time FB notification on the browser. This is the first time Facebook has teamed up with a mobile browser to allow real-time notifications outside of its native app.
In India, we are seeing m-commerce growth taking place at a fast pace. India is a mobile-first market and most of the internet population accesses it for the first time using their mobile phones. This is especially the case in lower-tier cities and rural areas. Therefore, the e-commerce market is expected to get an impressive growth through mobile phones. M-commerce is taking off in India and UCWeb is accelerating the growth in this area.
Voice&Data: How are you dealing with the problem of increased localized content?
Kenny Ye: We have made significant localisation efforts to cater to each market, including synergistic tie-ups that add value to our users. Our success and adoption rate in India has been quick and very encouraging so far.
We also cater to local user demands by providing up-to-date services. For example, we teamed up with local content service providers to provide numerous Bollywood movies with copyrights to Indian users. Users can also check their PNR status directly from UC Browser. That’s something our peers do not provide.
We look to sustain our leadership position in India and target greater traction from Tier II & III cities going forward. We aim to add more features to cater to the Indian customer better. Going forward, we want to continue focusing on localisation of the product, drive deeper content and service integration and add more features that cater to our consumers’ need.
Voice&Data: What more can we see from UCWeb in the near future?
Kenny Ye: We have recently released the public beta of our UC Browser for PCs in international markets – we are committed to connecting users around the world with the Internet, wherever they are and whatever device they use. It comes in two versions: A General Version and an Indian version which is specially designed for India with a pre-loaded UC Cricket add-on where users can access the latest cricket news, scores, etc.
UC Browser for PC is equipped with the important features that its fans on mobile have come to love. Cloud Sync, for example, allows users to synchronize open tabs and bookmarks from UC Browser for mobile, so that they can seamlessly switch between UC Browser on mobile and PC. UC Browser for PC also has high-speed downloads, with an option to resume when downloads are interrupted, as well as a smart file manager that automatically categorizes downloaded files by type.
Apart from that, UC Browser for PC also comes with a preloading feature that loads photos and links beforehand so users can open them instantly later on for non-stop browsing. Add-ons, themes, adblock, gesture support and customizable speed dials are also a plus.
Voice&Data: How you managed to grab 48% market share here in India? Please throw some light on your key differentiators.
Kenny Ye: UC Browser is unique in many ways. We were the first mobile browser to introduce cloud computing technology back in the year 2004. With more people accessing internet on their mobile phones, we have developed an easy-to-use navigation.
Features such as speed mode, background download, download manager and multiple Add-ons distinguish UC Browser from other products in the market. We have also customized our browser and added features to suit the needs of an Indian user.
In regions with low connectivity our data compression feature is of great help. We also have offline video and reading features available for people who are want to save data charge and have sporadic internet connection.
Some our key features include:
• Background download allows the download to continue even after you exit the browser. In case the download is interrupted due to bad network or any other issue, it resumes automatically once the network is restored
• Smart Download manager allows you to keep a easy track of all the files within the browser
• Auto Pager: Developed to give a seamless browsing experience with web content divided into pages, such that when you reach the end of your current page, Auto Pager will automatically load the next one
• Speed Mode II: By detecting the type of internet connection you have, the device you are using, and what webpage you are browsing, UC Browser fetches the most suitable version of the webpage for you