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Youdao Inc eyes bigger global presence

By CHENG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-15 09:39
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Youdao, a smart learning platform under NetEase, gets listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct 25, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

U-Dictionary, the popular language learning and translation app of online education firm Youdao Inc, will further expand its geographical presence this year to offset the potential operational risks in some economies, a top company official said.

Liu Renlei, senior vice-president of Youdao, said the app has overtaken Google Translate in user numbers in some foreign markets and had 100 million installations and 1.8 million monthly active users by the end of September last year.

"The app has witnessed rapid user growth and climbed the ranks to become one of the top three apps in the Google Play education category in Indonesia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Colombia," Liu said.

So far, the app, which enables translation between English and 108 languages, has a footprint in more than 100 countries and regions, including Thailand and Russia.

"We are seeing strong demand from the Southeast Asian market, as the region has a vast number of young users who are eager to learn and improve English," he said.

Compared with rivals like Google Translate, U-Dictionary offers a better product experience with comprehensive explanations and abundant language choices.

"We have even covered languages that have not been covered by Google Translate yet, such as Assamese and Odia, two local languages in India. In addition, we also provide abundant language learning content," Liu said.

He said the app comes with several technology-enabled functions. The magic translate, for instance, allows users to simply press a floating bubble on the sentence to see the translation after copying the text while browsing, messaging or using any other apps.

"Online education companies like Youdao have great advantages in going global, as they can leverage their abundant experience and technologies in the huge domestic market further into the overseas market," said Jiang Han, senior researcher at market consultancy Pangoal.

"The overseas momentum of Youdao will help the globalization plans of parent company NetEase and further consolidate its growth in the online education sector,"Jiang said.

The education subsidiary of NetEase reported a net income of 896 million yuan ($138.3 million) during the third quarter of last year, up 159 percent on a yearly basis.

Jiang said Chinese online education firms have been facing a slew of challenges in overseas markets due to operational uncertainties.

In the Indian market, U-Dictionary, which has surpassed Google Translate to be the market leader, was banned due to security concerns. "Though India is an emerging market that businesses cannot ignore, we will switch part of the focus to other markets if the ban continues," Liu said.

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