Update: Speaking with MediaNama, Kenny Ye, MD of UCWeb India, informed that UC browser’s user-base in India is close to 30 million, and the browser has gained traction in the market since the launch of UC Browser’s international version in 2009, over a period of three years. He also added that the browser was launched in 2004, one year ahead of Opera Mini, but was limited to the Chinese market.
- USP: Just like Opera Mini, UC Browser also uses server side compression to reduce data costs for end users. Ye mentioned that servers located in the US and India are used for Indian traffic. He said that UCWeb developed its own kernel and browser core, making the UC Browser a better product compared to other mobile browsers. The browser’s Java (J2ME) version already offers a Hindi language interface, and the company intends to support more Indian languages across all major platforms by the end of this year.
- Tie-Ups: The company claims to have tie-ups with nearly 200 partners including developers, telecom operators, publishers and OEMs. Ye did not name any Indian operators or OEMs but said that the company is in talks with all major players. It has tie-ups with Yahoo, and ESPN Crincinfo, among other content publishers which recommend UCBrowser to visitors.
- Monetisation: According to Ye, the company is VC funded and does not intend to focus on monetisation at this stage. He mentioned that the major focus of UCWeb was to build a large user-base.
- Game Center: UCWeb had launched a mobile games store, called Game Center in July, with developers such as Nazara, Indiagames, and Zapak to offer 32 offline games in 10 categories including Action, Sports, Adventure and others. Ye clarified that the company was not monetizing through the game store but allowed these developers to list free and try and buy games.
- Dominant platforms in India: Most UC Browser downloads are for Java (J2ME), Symbian and Android versions. However, Ye did not comment on specific share saying that the number of users was large.
Earlier: China based web browser company, UCWeb, claims that its market share in India has grown more than 20%. Citing numbers from StatCounter, the company reports that UC Browser’s market share in India has grown from 12% to over 23%, in the first half of 2012. Note that UCWeb opened its first office in India in September 2012.
The company also claims that it now has 60 million users outside of China. UCWeb said that it has achieved a worldwide user base of over 300 million in a period of 8 years since its existence. It is also releasing a new international version of its browser.
UC Browser’s current version is available in 7 different languages, and according to the company is available in 150 countries and regions.
It’s interesting to see that Opera still leads the mobile web browser segment with a 32.01% marketshare, followed by UCWeb at 19.67%, and Nokia’s browser at 19.05% in September 2012.
We’re curious to know how the company managed to capture a large share in a totally new market, within a short span of time. The UC browser is majorly distributed through third party app stores such as GetJar and Mobango, in addition to on-deck operator app stores, which makes it accessible to feature phone users, and mobile OEM app stores. Also the browser is available for all major mobile platforms including Android, feature phones (Java), iOS, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. However, Opera has the advantage of being the early entrant, and has tie-ups with all major Indian telcos, and with many OEMs that help it in reaching out to more users.
We’ve written to UCWeb for an interaction and would update this post as we hear from them.