Alibaba Group’s UC Browser has surpassed 400 million monthly active users globally, extending its lead over Apple’s Safari as the world’s second-most popular mobile browser.
He Xiaopeng, the head of UCWeb, the Alibaba division that owns UC Browser, released the numbers during a speech to the annual Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing on Thursday. 9Apps, Alibaba’s overseas marketplace for mobile applications, has reached 160 million active monthly users.
UC Browser is already the leading mobile browser in China, in addition to controlling more than 50 percent of the Indian and Indonesian markets. It works on both Android and iOS phones and is available in 12 different languages, including Chinese, English, Hindi, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.
Safari, with 17.9 percent of the global mobile browser market, slipped to No. 3 in the world last December when UC Browser picked up an 18.6 percent share, according to StatCounter, an independent web traffic analytics service. UC and Safari now sit at 19.6 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively, while Google Chrome is the global leader with a 34 percent share.
The growth for UC Browser comes at a time when consumers are migrating en masse from desktop computers to mobile devices in order to access the internet, especially when shopping for goods and services. As a result the UC browser is becoming an increasingly important connection to end users for Alibaba as the company develops what it calls a “media ecosystem” of e-commerce platforms, online news outlets, video streaming services and social networks.
Yu Yongfu, president of Alibaba’s Mobile Business Group, said the company plans to leverage this shift by boosting the amount of content available to users through UC Browser, and using Alibaba’s vast amounts of consumer data to deliver it to them in a targeted way. Alibaba is collecting information ranging from shopping behavior on e-commerce sites such as Taobao and Tmall.com to the viewing likes and dislikes of visitors to video-streaming hub Youku Tudou.
“Internet products must evolve in the coming five years as we see a rising trend shifting from people seeking information to information seeking people,” Yu said.
UCWeb’s He said the company would partner with media outlets so that they can reach more consumers through the app. He said the media outlets would have “content stores” on UC Browser the same way merchants have stores on Tmall. The company has already formed content partnerships with online portal Sina, China Business News and Chinese internet company Netease.
In addition to the push into content, UCWeb plans to launch a mobile advertising platform, Huichuan, that would integrate data from UC Browser, its news feed feature UC Headline, Shenma Search and its Chinese app marketplace PP Assistant to help merchants launch targeted marketing and advertising campaigns. Data from location-based services provider AutoNavi and Alibaba Games will also feed into Huichuan, with online marketing unit Alimama playing a role as well.