China-based totally UCWeb made a silent entry in the Indian subcontinent in 2011. This turned into the time whilst the Indian cellular browser market changed into ruled by means of gamers like Google Chrome and Opera. It changed into in August 2013, that UCWeb ultimately grabbed media attention after pushing down its nemesis Opera from top role. Since then, inside the remaining six years, the organization has sought to upgrade its positioning in India from a popular browsing device to a virtual content material distribution platform.
In India, UCWeb first launched its mobile browser, UC Browser, which ranks today on the topmost function. By the stop of March 2017, UC Browser’s percentage inside the Indian market have been recorded as 52.30%, as in step with a Statcounter April 2017 report, the best amidst different famous and worldwide 0.33-birthday celebration cell browsers, which include Google Chrome (29.30%), Opera (nine.Forty%), and Android (1.Eighty%).
UCWeb is presently banking on its localised content material and services in India. In the beyond few years, the organization has already launched its global product portfolio which covered, app and game distribution platforms (9Apps and 9Game), a mobile traffic platform (UC Union), content material distribution platform UC News amongst others.
Recently, UCWeb additionally released the We-Media Reward Plan 2.Zero, a user-generated content material platform in India with an initial funding of $749K (INR five Cr). The organization is already dedicated to make investments $30 Mn in India and Indonesia over two years for riding content material distribution.
We at cft thought to have a closer study the UCWeb India journey in India, its evolution from a cellular browser to a virtual content distribution platform, and its destiny plans within the united states.
For this motive, we also had an in-depth conversation with Young Li, Head, International Business Department, Alibaba Mobile Business Group. Young Li changed into appointed to oversee the enterprise of UCWeb, a key department in the Alibaba Mobile Business Group in May 2017. Prior to this, he changed into the head of UC News and performed a key position in spearheading its achievement in markets together with India and Indonesia.
UCWeb Journey In India
Here is a short timeline of UCWeb adventure and key milestones carried out in India within the beyond six years.
In Conversation With UCWeb’s Young Li Over Digital Content Distribution In India
The communique with Young Li majorly revolved around UCWeb’s adventure in India, plus the reaction the company has received for its digital content distribution entities – UC News and We-Media Reward 2.Zero plan to date. We also were given a quick overview of UCWeb’s plans to cope with the demanding situations in India together with disseminating content in vernacular languages and keeping off present opposition within the virtual content distribution space. Lastly, we also attempted to get a glimpse on how UCWeb is making an attempt to leverage existing possibilities in cell and video content distribution marketplace in India.
Here are the edited excerpts:
cft: What factors made UCWeb foray into the Indian market?
Young Li: Smartphone penetration is expected to reach 520 Mn by way of 2020 (Ernst & Young January 2016 Mn by way of 2020 (Ernst & Young January 2016 document) and hundreds of thousands of Indian users are exploring the internet for the primary time on their mobile phones. A cellular browser is now their gateway to internet and its ability is large. India is one in all the biggest markets for us and currently drives our growth within the Asian continent. UC Browser is the main mobile browser in India and Indonesia. We are the chief in Asia and one of the top three in the international. We established our first foreign places headquarters in Gurugram five years ago. As of nowadays, net and its potential is great. India is certainly one of the largest markets for us and presently drives our growth in the Asian continent. UC Browser is the leading cell browser in India and Indonesia. We are the leader in Asia and one of the pinnacle three inside the world. We hooked up our first distant places headquarters in Gurugram five years ago. As of today, we've reached one hundred Mn month-to-month lively users, a lot of whom are cellular-simplest customers.
cft: Tell us about the evolution of UCWeb from a cell browsing device to a digital content material distribution platform.
Young Li: With the converting mobile internet landscape, UCWeb has followed a method of becoming a content material distribution platform from being a browsing device. For this, UCWeb has added enticing and aggregating numerous form of content material on its platforms, UC Browser and UC News.
With the increase in the consumption of facts feeds, non-traditional news feeds consisting of weblog posts, independent write ups, imagery feeds, video logs, short video content and more have emerge as a massive hit. In the near future, greater professionally-trained content individuals will set up themselves as “We-Media”, a collective term for folks who flip themselves into unbiased media brands.
cft: At the time of the UC News release, Alibaba introduced to invest $30 Mn to drive the content distribution wagon in India. How are the funds to be utilised and what's the anticipated timeline for the same?
Young Li: The funds will primarily be used to tap the huge ability of person-generated content in India through our news distribution and content material platform, UC News. In 2017 alone, we plan to feature extra than 30,000 self-publishers, bloggers and key opinion leaders to our platform, producing over 10,000 articles for UC News, every single day. Users are embracing diverse digital content and their appetite for such content is being met with the aid of UC News. Going forward, we are also concentrated on extra varied and localised content material on our platform by the end of 2017 to make the local content material ecosystem more potent.
cft: How is UC News, the content distribution arm of UC Web, doing in India? What are your plans for FY ‘18 here?
Young Li: UCWeb, in every marketplace, is guided by using its undertaking to attach people. We need to be the window through which human beings get admission to information, opportunities which make a meaningful difference to their lives. We utilise era, use records compression to enable faster downloads, and cloud computing era which facilitates quicker page downloads without attracting stiff down load prices from cell vendors. Our recognition is to build and enhance our person base in India. The success and adoption rates so far had been encouraging and, going ahead, our consciousness will stay on the localisation of merchandise so that you can driving deeper content material and carrier integration, making UC Browser the extremely good utility on a handset.
2016 has been a landmark 12 months for UCWeb’s India journey with the launch of UC News, rankings of partnerships, and scaling the one hundred Mn consumer mark. UC News has witnessed amazing fulfillment considering its launch in June 2016 and is currently one of the quickest-growing news and content aggregator apps on Google Play. The app has crossed 100 Mn Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in India and Indonesia as of April 2017. We are experiencing a fast rise inside the average time spent on UC News. As of this quarter, a median person spends over 23 mins on UC News.
cft: What sort of opportunities do you discover inside the Indian market in terms of content material distribution and, extra mainly, video content distribution? What are the enterprise’s plans for the equal?
Young Li: According to UCWeb content trends, image and video-related content draws better engagement and extensively outperforms content material with none pics. Video content material on cellular has visible a pointy surge of 30%, while content with a picture or pictorial depiction has labored 1.7 instances better than its counterpart.
Apart from confined bandwidth availability, content material distribution and accessibility is the brand new challenge confronted by means of the enterprise. The key motive force to further boom is the affordability of information. This will crystallise similarly adoption by new cellular net users and spark off existing users to utilise extra facts.
More and more virtual content material customers are turning themselves into “prosumers” – clients who also contribute to the content material production – in an effort to also make contributions to the boom of virtual content creators in India.
UCWeb has additionally been setting new traits below the UC We-Media programme, wherein humans get an opportunity to create, to write down, share mind, and have interaction with their fans on UC News. Celebrities which include Manish Paul (the host of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa), dancer Lauren Gottlieb, and author Chetan Bhagat have joined the We-Media platform in the beyond to put in writing one of a kind content for UC News.
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cft: UCWeb presently offers content in Hindi and English in India. In which language does UCWeb’s content material platforms attain primary traction? Also, with India being a multi-linguistic us of a (over a hundred formally recognised languages), will UCWeb foray into vernacular languages?
Young Li: According to the latest content tendencies from UC News, total time spent consuming content material on the cellular has visible a sharp uptick of 230% in Q4 versus Q3. The overall web page views on UC News additionally rose over 290%, with content material in Hindi seeing maximum traction. Indian users read in Hindi almost 5 times more than English on the cellular in 2016. Hindi content, focussed on Bollywood news and celebrities, clocked in the highest page perspectives and readership at the cell. It was ate up over two instances extra than politics and technology content and content material with Hindi key phrases hit over eight instances greater readership than content material with English key phrases.
Multiple new-age virtual media systems are difficult traditional mediums. The choice of the Indian consumers towards vernacular and regional language content material is continuously on the upswing, with ninety three% of the time spent on videos in Hindi and other nearby languages.
Keeping this in thoughts, UCWeb has been hanging multiple partnerships to offer its customers with enticing and exciting content material.
cft: In India, we already have installed players within the virtual content material distribution area which include BCCL, You Tube, and ESPN. Then there is a community of new age media startups including ScoopWhoop and WittyFeed. How does UCWeb plan to fend off this competition?
Young Li: UC Browser is particular in lots of ways. We were the primary mobile browser to introduce cloud computing technology back in 2004. With greater human beings gaining access to the net on their cellular phones, we have advanced an smooth-to-use navigation.
Features inclusive of pace mode, heritage download, download supervisor, and more than one accessories distinguish UC Browser from other merchandise inside the market. Apart from presenting the high-quality person revel in at the bottom information value, we've made tremendous localisation efforts to cater to every marketplace, inclusive of synergistic tie-usathat add price to our customers. Even even though we revel in a wholesome marketplace percentage, we constantly attempt to attain out to users in newer markets.
With improved attention on “Digitising Entertainment,” in 2016, UCWeb tied up with India’s leading entertainment tv channel – Colors TV – to promote 4 of its marquee suggests – Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, 24, Big Boss, and Comedy Nights Live – permitting the channel to personalize, curate, and present various content material to users who get right of entry to Internet at the pass. UCWeb also charted a brand new achievement story thru its tie-up with Fox Star Studios India, Dharma Productions, and Sony Music India to sell Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma starer, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. In a fortnight-lengthy campaign, UCWeb were given first rights to ‘The Breakup Song’ and launched a unique phase of unseen and one-of-a-kind photos from the film, video bytes from the stars, film trivia, and special posters as pop up screens and banners on UC Browser and UC News.
In addition, the release of the brand new UC Browser marks elevated customisation options along side integration to UC News in the browser. The new UC Browser has been updated retaining in thoughts consumer choice for hyper-personalised and tasty content at each touch point.
cft: What are the differences that you discover in the Indian market in comparison to different nations?
Young Li: India is the world’s 2nd-largest net marketplace. With elevated function and cellphone penetration along side the drop in records charges, a massive a part of the u . S .’s unconnected population (a huge 73%) is ready to go online on their mobiles. Interestingly, India skipped the PC-revolution generation to leap immediately to smartphones.
The subsequent wave of increase in India’s internet penetration is expected to return from Tier II and Tier III towns, enabled by using the wi-fi mobile net. The choice of Indian customers closer to vernacular and regional language content material is continuously on the upswing, with 93% of the time spent on films in Hindi and different regional languages.
cft: According to you, what are the emerging tendencies in cellular content consumption and surfing, globally, in addition to in India?
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Young Li: UCWeb in each marketplace is guided by its challenge to attach human beings. As a frontrunner in the sphere, we paintings as a gateway to content material through the cell internet thru which human beings access information, possibilities which make a meaningful distinction to their lives.
Our new method is to additionally be a content material distribution platform for our customers. Our collaboration with Colors TV to offer our users positive exclusives along with ‘backstage’ has been our first step toward offering the right content material to our users. We take into account that Indian users love enjoyment. So, with the UC Browser, we intention to convey our customers exactly what they need – the threat to have interaction with enjoyment associated content material be it movie promotions, e book launches and TV indicates’ backstage content material.
India, in the approaching years, will effortlessly surpass 500 Mn mobile net users. With numbers like that, certainly, India may be the main strength to pressure the growth of the arena’s cellular net financial system. Now, we need to prepare ourselves to serve India in a extra green and most desirable way. The answer lies in “Glocalisation” thru which we shall serve, speak, and cooperate with the local groups and organisations who percentage the same cost with us and welcome them to be part of this changing face of the cellular net.
cft: What are UCWeb’s plans in phrases of growth, innovation, investment, and release of new products in India?
Young Li: Our goal is to make UC Browser and 9Apps extraordinary programs that provide some thing for every body. Our new strategy is, from tool to content. We will attention on content material aggregation going ahead, primarily based on our successful partnerships for UC Browser, UC Cricket, and UC News.
We will maintain to deal with the key demanding situations faced by way of customers and partners i.E. Content material discovery and navigation for customers and content distribution by means of publishers & companions. We will maintain exploring new partnerships for distributing content to the loads thru our huge consumer base. We gets more and more content providers on board along with key opinion leaders (KOLs), improve our product, and add extra local language guide.
Our new milestone of attaining one hundred million MAUs in India (for UC News alone) has located us at par with Twitter and Instagram. Our imaginative and prescient inside the coming years, after our success in India, is to serve 1/2 the population of the planet. Our method is to focus on “Glocalisation”- because of this going worldwide by means of imparting localised answers in each marketplace. We consider this method will lead us to a new digital generation, which is GUF – Google, UCWeb, and Facebook.
Is The Timing Really Perfect For UCWeb To Enter The Indian Digital Content Distribution Market?
UCWeb started operations in 2004 as a cell Internet browser and changed into released as a Java application. It became the first cellular browser to introduce cloud computing generation lower back in 2004. The agency got obtained by way of Alibaba Group in 2014 and later UCWeb positioned itself as a leading issuer of cell internet software program technology and offerings.
With a presence in extra than one hundred fifty countries and regions around the sector, UCWeb has extra than two hundred patents, each pending and acquired, inside the discipline of cellular browsing. Not only this, over 80% of the 3,000-robust workforce is engaged in product research and improvement.
The western countries on the globe today have already crested the wave on the fourth industrial revolution. They are in an technology wherein the difference among bodily, digital, and organic spheres is getting blurred and technology like AI, robotics, IoT, three-D printing, quantum computing are on the upward push.
However, in developing economies like India, we still stand at the start of the fourth commercial revolution. We are in an era where the Internet, IT/ITES, electronics, etc. Are still evolving and are acting as using factors in the digital revolution. But, once more, this has additionally positioned India as a prepared-to-capitalise marketplace against the nearly-saturated international peers.
In this kind of time, digital content material distribution has emerged as one of the distinguished sectors in the Indian digital surroundings. The virtual content intake marketplace in India has been poised to attain $three.1 Bn (INR 20,000 Cr) by using 2020 as in keeping with an EY January 2016 report. The elements riding this increase include growing smartphone and internet penetration, together with growing tech savviness and preferred of residing of people.
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Indian customers currently preserve over three hundred Mn smartphones, and this range is projected to reach over 500 Mn through 2020. There are over 450 Mn internet users in India, as of June 2017, as according to predictions of the IAMAI. The roll out of 4G broadband infrastructure, the launch of statistics offerings like Reliance Jio and projects by using global tech giants like Facebook and Google are in addition fuelling efforts to offer low value quicker internet to Indian hundreds.
As they say, the “pen is mightier than the sword” and cellular net has given further electricity to this pen. With almost each print media book having its content material on digital structures, the evidence is undeniable. Also, with an growth in virtual content material distribution, content intake is now pushed by way of a couple of monitors. Here is a observe the content material intake patterns on exclusive display screen as consistent with January 2016 report by means of E&Y.
Virtual content material-ucweb-content material distribution
Also, the modern-day technology of millennials has damaged the shackles of 30 minutes or 60 minutes content material. Today, the average period of video viewing in India is much less than 10 minutes.
Keeping these kind of elements in mind, it does seem that the timing is quite ideal for UCWeb. With virtual content distribution platforms like UC Browser and UC News in addition to We-Media Reward Plan 2.0, UCWeb has the manner to grab preserve of the top function. UCWeb’s content material, primarily based on quick films, is already famous in Chinese markets and that they plan to quickly introduce it in India as well. However, India still lags in the back of on having a right virtual infrastructure. Although we have 4G and lower facts p.C. Costs, quite a few work still needs to be achieved to make internet offerings quicker and smoother. Also, at gift around 45% of over the pinnacle content material (OTT) users consume content in nearby languages. How UCWeb will be capable of tackle those specific demanding situations posed by way of the Indian subcontinent, could be really worth looking for inside the near destiny.