Mobile browser UCWeb has updated its Android browser to version 10.7 with a UI overhaul, personalisation of discovery and content access. The company claims that the browser will act as a content aggregator as well as a distributor, for which it employs a card system (think Google Now and Twitter).
The cards are in the form of widgets like Headlines, Top Sites, Jokes, Cricket Match, Cricket Topic, Top Free Apps, Opinion, Trending Video, Shopping etc, which can be arranged according to preference and one favourite can be pinned to the top. The pinned widget will display the content on the homepage of the browser app when you open it. The browser also has customisable backgrounds.
UCWeb claims that in India, almost 50% of the total pageviews on mobile phones are accessed through its browser. It also claims to have 100 million daily active users, stating that UC Browser is available on over 3,000 different models of mobile devices from over 200 manufacturers and 11 languages. In December 2012, it had claimed to have 40 million users in India and globally, it claimed to have surpassed 500 million quarterly active users in March last year.
Personal data leaks
In May, the browser came under some fire after it was reported that it was leaking sensitive user information, making it a privacy risk according to a Canadian technology research group called Citizen Lab. The research was prompted by a document leaked by Edward Snowden, mentioning that the Chinese and English editions of the Android version of the browser made user data like location, search details, network operator and even mobile device identifier numbers like the IMEI number easily available to third parties. An Alibaba spokesperson said that they’d fixed the security concerns highlighted by Citizen Lab and updated its users about it.
Acquisition by Alibaba
Alibaba acquired UC Browser parent UCWeb in June last year. Alibaba had previously mentioned in its IPO filing that it owned 66% stake in UCWeb in form of convertible preferred shares, which the company had acquired over several years through several rounds of investments, the last of which was completed in April 2014.
UCWeb in India
UCWeb had setup its second headquarters in India in April 2013, in a bid to push its UC mobile browser among Indian users. The company had plans of investing $170 million in expanding its global operations, majority of which was expected to be deployed in India to build a mobile Internet ecosystem. As of May this year and a StatCounter report, the company had the highest market share in mobile browsers in India with 47.92% market share, followed by Opera with 20.61% market share, Chrome with 11.5% market share, Android with 9.04% market share and Nokia with 3.6% market share.
Image Credit: Flickr user Johan Larsson