Jonathan Raveh is the Director of Publishers at appnext. Before appnext Jonathan was the Media Sales Director of Celltick, a global leader in mobile initiated commerce. Headquartered in Guangzhou, China, UC Web has opened branch offices in Russia, India and Vietnam. In June 2014, UC Web was fully merged into Alibaba in a deal known as the biggest in China’s internet history. Jonathan asked Arthur Li, Head of International Traffic Business, International Business Department of UC Web, to share the company story, plans for the future, and mobile business insights.
Tell us a little bit about UC Web
UC Web Inc. (UC Web) is a leading provider of mobile internet software technology and services. Its business ecosystem consists of UC Browser, mobile gaming (9Game), app distribution channel (9Apps), mobile ad network (UC Union), mobile search (Shenma) as well as LBS service (AutoNavi).
UC Browser, the flagship product of UC Web, is now the No.1 third-party mobile browser in the world with a 11.1% market share, according to StatCounter. It has reached 100 million daily active users as of the end of 2014. With around 80% of its 3,000 employees involved in product research and development, UC Web has more than 200 patents, both pending and received, in the field of mobile browsing.
How did you come up with the idea to create a new mobile browser (UC browser)?
Since its inception in 2004, UC Web’s mission has been to provide better mobile internet experience to users around the world. Mobile phones have become affordable in developing countries. The access to mobile phones brings many people the opportunity to get online for the first time in those emerging economies. UC Browser, serves as a gateway to mobile internet, can help people navigate through the internet and help them to get their most-needed content and services as fast as possible, and thus minimize the digital gap.
A question that every publisher/developer wishes to know – How did UC browser become so popular? What marketing activities did you use in order to distribute UC browser worldwide?
UC Browser’s popularity across countries mainly attributes to its crafted features that cater to varied users demands. For example, in the early days of mobile internet in China when mobile connectivity isn’t as stable and speedy as now, UC Browser leveraged its cloud technology to speed up the page loading. It can also automatically rearrange the text of the web pages – this feature came in handy at a time when mobile phones come with smaller screens. A recent example is that, having learned that most UC Browser users log in Facebook every day, UC Browser teamed up with Facebook to provide real-time Facebook notifications on UC Browser without the need to install Facebook app. Going global, UC Browser focuses on localization, and provides local users with easy access to local web content and services.
Unlike other top browsers, UC Browser does not come as default on any mobile operating systems, including Android or iOS. Word-of-mouth and organic growth is the most important reason that UC Browser becomes the No.1 mobile browser in many countries and regions, such as middle east and some south Asian countries where we carry out only very limited promotions. However, we do implement some cost-effective measures to promote UC browser, such as mobile advertising, social media outreach, etc.
What are your main goals for expanding in 2015?
As of the end of 2014, UC Browser has become the No.1 third-party mobile browser in the world with 11.1% market share according to StatCounter. In 2015, we’re looking at increasing users and expanding our global footprints by increasing our headcounts and investing more resources in R&D.
In what main countries are you seeking to increase your market share?
While continuing our leadership in mobile browsing in China and India, we are seeking to increase our presence in other populous emerging countries such as Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, Middle East, etc. In fact, we are enjoying a rapid growth in these countries. At the end of 2014, we opened an office in Moscow. In Indonesia, our market share had grown from 7% to almost 20% in 2014.
Any plans to release new apps or products for iOS or Android in 2015?
We’ll keep releasing new versions of our browsers on both platforms this year.
How hard is it to acquire user in Google Play when you compare it to other Chinese independent app stores?
We can look at this issue from two different aspects.
First of all, Google Play is much more of a level-playing field, at which the app ranking is based on the sophisticated algorithm that does not easily subject to manipulation. Well some top Chinese independent app stores give some room for the practice of app ranking manipulation, making it hard for fair players to compete with those apply underhand tricks.
Second, the abundance – put it another way, fragmentation – of app stores in China also brings about challenges in app distribution as developers need to deal with multiple channels.
Would you recommend app developer to use distribution platforms to promote their apps?
Yes. Promoting apps via third-party app distribution platforms and ad-networks is considered cost-effective and hassle-free. Appnext are a great choice, that’s why we are partnering up with them.
With the growing number of apps worldwide, it is getting very hard for developers to market their apps and create a proper amount of revenue. Any tips for all those app developers trying to make a living from it?
App developers should spend their time and energies on app development, and let the third-party app stores and user acquisition platforms, such as Appnext, do the rest. Developers will be able to reach out to a broad range of users that they could not have covered before without involving themselves in product promotion.