In an interaction with Voice&Data, Robert Bu, General Manager, UCWeb India reveals the changing patterns in news consumption and future of news media in the digital world and how important it is to the company’s global plans. Excerpt
Voice&Data: What is your overall presence in India?
Robert Bu: UCWeb established itself in India before it was merged into Alibaba Group in 2011. We are the only business within Alibaba Mobile Business Group to set feet on foreign lands out of China.
As a core member of the Alibaba Mobile Business Group, we aim at providing infrastructural internet services to India internet users - webpage browsing and application downloading, as the 2 gateways to make connecting to the internet world easy and fun.
The core products of UCWeb are UC Browser – the all-in-one browsing experience and 9Apps - a dynamically designed android application store with over 250 mn monthly active users.
In terms of page views, according to the generally used 3rd party data from StatCounter, over 50% of the webpages are accessed by UC Browser in India – a major milestone on our mission to connect half of the India Cyber Citizens to the Internet. Our monthly active users in India stand at over 80 million (as of March 2016) - accounting for more than 30% of the population of mobile internet users. Our journey in India has been fascinating, rich and rewarding, in more ways than one.
Voice&Data: What are the challenges faced by the company while working in the Indian Market?
Robert Bu: Smartphone penetration is expected to reach 520 million by 2020 (Ernst & Young) and millions of Indian users are exploring internet for the first time on their mobile phones.
Mobile Browser is now the gateway to internet and its potential is immense. 45% of all content consumed expected to be on the small screen at that time. Apart from limited bandwidth availability, content distribution and accessibility is the new challenge faced by the industry.
Voice&Data: What solution did the company adopt to overcome these challenges?
Robert Bu: The key driver to further growth is the affordability of data. This will crystallize further adoption by new mobile Internet users and prompt existing users to utilise more data
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