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BW Businessworld

'UC Browser Wants To Drive Engagement By Aggregating Content Users Want'

BW Businessworld caught up with Kenny Ye, GM, Global Markets, Alibaba Mobile Business Group, to talk about the partnership, the unique move towards becoming a content aggregator and UC Browser’s strategy.

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The Alibaba Mobile Business Group’s mobile internet browser, UC Browser, is the market leader in India with an estimated 55 percent share according to StatCounter’s data, something it wants to keep that way.

On Thursday, ahead of the T20 World Cup, UC Browser which offers a variety of products including UC Cricket, announced partnerships with Twitter and Microsoft’s Bing to provide an encompassing cricket experience for its users complete with live feeds, predictions, stats and other data—a part of a larger move towards becoming a content aggregation platform.

BW Businessworld caught up with Kenny Ye, GM, Global Markets, Alibaba Mobile Business Group, to talk about the partnership, the unique move towards becoming a content aggregator and UC Browser’s strategy.

Edited Excerpts:

Tell us a little bit about the new partnership with Twitter and Bing.
We think that mobile will drive more digital content consumption in the future. According to Ernst&Young, 50 percent of all content consumed expected to be on the small screen in less than 5 years and this is something that is already happening.

We already have a rich market share, around 55 percent and decided that, for them, we wanted to solve the problem of content distribution and the consumption via this.

The UC Cricket product is the perfect testimony and this year we also have a new partnership with Twitter. We integrated the live twitter feed on UC cricket. We have also partnered with Bing which will provide predictions, statistical results, scores and other data. We also plan to integrate other content providers into our platform to deliver content to our users.

This, of course, goes beyond the basic functionality of a traditional browser. What was the rationale behind moving in such a direction?
For us, it was the need to meet the users' demand. The users want to consume this data but there are some challenges. The first case is that they do not know where to access this content. Secondly, all this content is located in different isolated apps which they would need to first download to access. And the last thing is that when they finally manage to access this content via the app or the website, it wouldn't be as fast. UC Browser, as a content aggregator, can help in the collection and aggregation of this content which will be served via our platform. This will help the users and persuade them to access and consume the content.

How are you choosing which content you want to offer?
We understand our users and we know what they would like to see. In India, we knew that it was a nation which loves cricket. Also, during cricket season we witnessed a major spike in usage over our products. People were accessing a lot of content from different cricket websites. The browsing data helps us understand what they want.

Are you looking at any promotional strategies or is it going to be all organic?
Every company has a go to market strategy. From the beginning the UCBrowser has been getting a lot of organic growth because when people access the internet they know that it’s fast, they can save data because of our data compression abilities and more and more people are getting to know about our browser.

In terms of marketing, like I said our strategy is to be very content driven and as we rope in more content providers and offer more, we can boost the engagement. We have cricket and we have music through our partnership with Hungama.

I would say that our key strategy is engagement. We can't just ask people to use our products unless there is something that captures their interest. The content is the media.

Are there more partnerships with other content providers lined up?
Definitely. We are looking to bring a large amount of content over different verticals which can only be achieved through partnerships. This works perfectly because we are projecting ourselves as content aggregators. We will not be generating the content ourselves.

We are also looking at expansion into other verticals. It is something that is being internally discussed.

Going 'glocal' has been a key strategy for UC Browser since 2012. In other countries what have you brought to the table in terms of content?
We know that there are some key fields which are popular among users—for example, sports. So like the way we have focussed on Cricket in India, in Indonesia they love football so we have Spekabola which is UC Football.

During the last world cup, we introduced UC Football to several countries. This is a key part of driving user engagement.

This is what differentiates us from other browsing tools. For most users the likes of Chrome and Safari are just browsing tools. We also started as a browsing tool but have now managed to go beyond that simple functionality. For users, browsers are very specific applications but we are offering something which has the potential of being an all-in-one platform and something where people would spend more time.

The realisation of this is linked to our localisation strategy. We don't generate anything so we need to partner and the great thing is that content generator also greatly benefit from this. The kind of exposure they get is unmatched simply because UC Browser is so widely used. They can distribute their content so much faster because, usually, to build such a wide platform would take a really long time.

Is your concentration primarily on the emerging markets or will you be looking at cracking the West?
We are everywhere and it's not like we are just focussed on the emerging markets. It's just that, being mobile based, lots of people in emerging markets are jumping on to mobile platforms creating a huge base and opportunity and the problems they face are unique—limited data packs, poor connectivity, limited memory space, etc. We can help them by providing a very fast experience, compressing data and helping solve the difficulty of accessing content by handing it right to them. This is why we have been successful. Our focus has solely been on improving the user experience.

Tags assigned to this article:
alibaba kenny ye e-commerce bing twitter