“UC has transitioned from a browser tool to a content platform and the change is based on UC's insight towards the Indian market and change in need of our local users. Indian users have been extremely active in the consumption of digital content for the last few years. Users’ content demand has grown significantly”, said Mr Huaiyuan Yang, Vice President of UCWeb Global Business in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCities World. Excerpts below:
Please share with us how UCWeb is changing the mobile internet landscape in India? What are the global trends of the evolution of the mobile internet landscape?
Smartphones have changed users’ terminal usage habits, providing more scenarios for content consumption of varied kinds, all the while stimulating demand for content creation. As mobile data gets affordable, there will be explosive growth for video content consumption. Short-form and stackable content is driving growth in the consumption of digital media and re-shaping the content space.
Given this scenario, UC Browser has now transferred from a tool-plus product to a content platform, to further cater to users’ demands. The next few years will usher in a new era of content creation, distribution, monetization and consumption. We will not only serve the consumers but also empower content creators. Our goal is to create a responsible content ecosystem that narrows the digital divide, creates more jobs and helps alleviate poverty in India.
UC Browser has transformed from a browser tool to a content platform and has built a content ecosystem to provide users with a variety of instant and high-quality content. Please share with us the journey of this transformation in global mobile internet landscape?
UC has transitioned from a browser tool to a content platform and the change is based on UC's insight towards the Indian market and change in need of our local users. Indian users have been extremely active in the consumption of digital content for the last few years. Users’ content demand has grown significantly.
UC has taken lead in accumulating user reputation in the domain of browser tools and news feed and was the first to introduce news feed into a browser. UC started the news feed service in 2016, launched the UC We-Media platform and began to partner with Indian publishers and content creators. We have partnered with more than 700 media groups in India to enrich the content supply and on-boarded over 120,000 self-generated content creators. We are proud that users are willing to get information from UC news feed.
The news feed is oriented to the needs of users’ priority, providing personalized content and paying attention to the interests of local users.
Would you comment on the evolving digital dynamic of India? How do you perceive the Government of India’s Digital Transformation mandate?
The government has announced a huge outlay for Digital India. We have always welcomed the current Government's initiative on making India digital. We strongly promote digital literacy and mobile internet penetration as key contributions in this area.
We are very excited about Government of India’s Digital Transformation plan and aim to fully support the government to meet its goals. We are ready to partner with various govt/non-govt bodies to get the next billion Indian users online.
As the government has vigorously promoted Digital India, India's overall network has improved and users’ mobile devices have also been upgraded. For the last few years, Indian users have been extremely active in the consumption of digital content.
What challenges do you face while operating in Indian market? What methods of mitigation do you adopt to curb these challenges?
UC has always been a pioneer in the Indian market and UC Browser has a strong reputation for fast downloading and mobile data saving. UC’s aim has been to bridge the digital divide by giving everyone the right to enjoy the information and create content.
The ecology of new media content is still in its infancy in India. The content supply is insufficient, but the market prospect is ever-growing. Through innovative products and technologies, UC is committed to building a healthy content ecosystem. For content creators, it actively helps them grow and realize their dreams. For its global users, it provides interesting, informative, valuable and diversified content, which helps eliminate the digital divide.
UC is committed to introducing highest quality content through various channels, structured analysis of the content and recommendations based on users’ habits.
UC is a principled content platform: in addition to continuously paying attention to the content needs of local users, it also bears its corporate social responsibility. We have set up special channels including a women's channels, a charity channel and more.
We are very optimistic about the future and will work to enhance the content ecology through the 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 we are committed to investing and growing with the digital market here.
What plans of expansion do you have for Indian market? What unique business strategies do you plan to adopt to beat the competition in a highly competitive Indian market?
In the Indian market, the differentiated business strategy of UC is determined by market conditions and user demands. With focus on content, we are no longer competing with tool-based products.
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.
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 interesting GIFs and Memes.
Please share with us UCWeb’s roadmap for India market with focus on short form content and videos
We have been present in the Indian market since 2009. After 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 MAUs.
We are also determined on a localization strategy. This includes localization at the product level, on content, on language medium, and for recruitment. 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. UC news feed is available not only in English and Hindi but also 13 local languages including Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Assamese and Manipuri, bringing more localised and relatable content to Indian users. UC is in the process of including more content in different vernacular languages on the platform.
Upgrades to UC Browser (namely, UC Browser Turbo and UC Browser Mini) are also meeting diverse needs of the Indian consumer. Both these versions cater to specific requirements of the new generation, but allows them to enjoy same functions as UC Browser. With understanding and insights of the video demands from local users, UC is focusing to offer better video experience.
UC values the growth potential of the Indian market and we will continue to increase its investments in the content market.
Kindly share with us UCWeb’s content strategy and key focus areas
UC browser caters to users with several other forms of snackable content. In addition to short-videos, UC also provides users with interesting GIFs and Memes.
UC has been able to create relevant short-content related to multiple movies for viewers interested in entertainment content. We have been able to replicate this with sports content, especially cricket, as well. Just to give you a perspective, UC Browser witnessed a record of 4 billion content consumption during IPL 2019 and ICC World Cup 2019. We have been one of the most preferred platforms for live audio commentary across multiple languages, which generated over 15 million consumption since launched in June.
In the last few quarters, UC Browser has also joined hands with some of the most sought-after production houses in the country, with the likes of Fox Star Studios and more lending movie and promotion rights to UC. The browser has offered exclusive content like Live Chats with the Stars, Bloopers, Trailers, Movie Snippets, Short Videos, Memes, GIFs and more for many popular and successful movies in the recent past, enabling multiple movies to get extensive exposure and a longer shelf life.
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.
Apart from this, we serve the needs of our local employees by building a local care system and contributing to various other aspects of their empowerment.