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UC is transforming from a browser tool to a content platform: H Yang, VP, UCWeb Global Business

Yang discusses the competitive environment in India, UCWeb’s localization efforts, expansion plans and more.

, ET Bureau|
Jul 04, 2019, 06.14 PM IST
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“We are upgrading our products to meet the changing demand of Indian users,” Yang said in an e-mail interview.
NEW DELHI: Last week Huaiyuan Yang took over as vice president of UCWeb Global Business. Yang is responsible for overseas business of UCWeb including India and Indonesia. Yang has taken over at a time when the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group owned UCWeb faces multiple headwinds, including growing competition from short video platform TikTok and from Chrome in the browser space. “We are upgrading our products to meet the changing demand of Indian users,” Yang said in an e-mail interview. Yang discusses the competitive environment in India, UCWeb’s localization efforts, expansion plans and more. Edited excerpts:

UCWeb’s user growth in India is slowing down. In Q1, 2019 UC Browser downloads declined 34% compared to the year ago period, according to Sensor Tower. How do you plan to address this?
Our user stickiness rate is actually growing. During the IPL event, the average page view per visit was 5.4 in 2018, which increased to 6.28 in 2019. UC Miss Cricket attracted over 70 million users in three weeks. The total content consumption of UC Miss Cricket reached 60 million in 2019. It was 19 million of 2018.

We are upgrading our products to meet the changing demands of Indian users. This year, UC has launched UC Browser Turbo and UC Browser Mini to better meet users’ needs. UC Browser Turbo is a more convenient search tool with a clean interface, and free from ads and news feeds. It is designed to provide users with a safer and faster search experience. UC Browser Mini is designed to meet the needs of users who are more likely to install small memory apps, so it features small storage and requires less space while still allowing users to enjoy the same functions as UC Browser, including consuming snackable content.

In snackable content, short form videos TikTok, ShareChat and others are among leaders. How do you differentiate from the competition?
Our content supply is diverse and localized. In addition to encouraging users to create various content, we have been cooperating with top Indian production houses for video licenses related to movies. Based on this, UC has been able to create relevant short-content related to the movie, including short-videos, Memes, GIFs and more. Also, we work with a number of key media who can provide us with quality news sources. Moreover, UC browser caters to users with several forms of snackable content. In addition to short-videos, UC also provides users with GIFs and Memes.

How do you view the India market?
The ecology of new media content is still in its infancy in India. The content supply is insufficient, but the market prospect is broad. We are very optimistic about the future and will work to enhance the ecology through optimization of technology, production tools, and ecological guidance. We will also focus on aiding new content creators through investment and resource empowerment.

The Indian market has tremendous growth potential and offers a large user base. A huge market is accompanied by many challenges, but we are confident to solve all the difficulties and will keep investing in the Indian market.

How do you propose to tackle competition--particularly Chrome on the browser front and TikTok in short form videos?

UC is transforming from a browser tool to a content platform. In the Indian market, the differentiated business strategy of UC is not determined by considerations of competition, but by market conditions and user demands. UC Browser is the largest third-party browser application in India today.

UC has always been committed to content localisation and works with some tier-1 media to provide high-quality news sources.

Many functions on UC are forerunners. Fast downloading and saving traffic in the browser tool has earned us a strong reputation among users; UC also launched its news feed and content transformation earlier than other international giants. With focus on content, we are no longer competing with tool-based products.

How important is India market for UC Browser?
UC saw huge market potential in India and has been investing in the Indian market since 2009. After over 10 years of development and continuous updating of products to meet the different needs of different users, UC has accumulated a large user base in India with 130 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs). For UC, India is a significant market offering a huge customer base.

Currently, UC Browser supports 14 Indian languages and owns various channels that cover trending, entertainment, education, philanthropy and various other categories of content for the Indian user.

How much are you investing in India? What are your expansion plans?
UC values the growth potential of the Indian market and we will continue to increase investment in the content market.

India is an important market for UC and we are determined on a localization strategy. This includes localization at the product level, on content, on language medium, and for recruitment. The UC news feed is available not only in English and Hindi but also in Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Urdu, Bhojpuri and Assamese, bringing more localized and relatable content to Indian users. We are in the process of including more content in different vernacular languages on the platform. UC is going to focus on South India to excavate local language insights and user demands.

UC is interested in content platforms in all languages in India and is exploring the possibility of more cooperation with media houses. UC is guided by user needs, and has the patience to make long-term ecological investments in India and will consider various investment opportunities in the future.

Also Read

UCWeb plans tie-up with peers in e-commerce

Alibaba owned UCWeb to launch e-commerce recommendation engine

UCWeb stores data within India: Shunyan Zhu, President, UCWeb

Paytm in discussions to buy UCWeb’s India biz

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