UC Mobile to browse in North America

Updated: 2012-02-23 11:10

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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Company plans to establish offices, products in market in first half

BEIJING - UC Mobile Ltd, the world's biggest provider of mobile phone browsers by user numbers, said on Wednesday that it will enter the North American market in the first half of this year, by setting up an office and launching localized products in the United States.

Yu Yongfu, chief executive officer of UC Mobile, said the company hopes to compete for a vital market position in the fast-growing US mobile Internet industry. Meanwhile, by gaining experience in the US market, UC Mobile will be able to create more sophisticated products and introduce them to countries such as China and India.

"The US market is definitely different from the emerging markets. Though we are confident about our technology, we still face tough challenges in areas such as product design - different countries have different tastes," Yu said at a news briefing in Beijing.

The company has already taken its first steps to enter the US market. According to Yu, UC Mobile has cooperated with Apple Inc. That collaboration has seen it become the first third-party mobile phone browser to have a self-owned kernel - a device that functions as a contact point between applications and data processing - running on iPads.

Established in Beijing in 2004, UC Mobile overtook Opera Software ASA of Norway to become the world leader in the provision of mobile phone browsers, according to the company's own statistics. UC Mobile had a user base of more than 300 million by the end of 2011 and boasts monthly page-visit figures of roughly 120 billion at present.

The number of overseas users of UC Mobile's products surpassed 40 million in 2011. Developing economies, such as India and Indonesia, are the company's fastest-growing markets.

Currently, UC Mobile occupies 20 percent of the mobile browser market in India, behind only Opera Software.

UC Mobile will invest at least $5 million in India this year, Yu said. The company aims to become the top-ranked player in the country's mobile Internet browser market and achieve a user base of 100 million by 2015.

On Wednesday, the company issued an industry report on the Chinese mobile Internet market. Based on its survey of 300 million users, UC Mobile predicted that the Android mobile operating system will beat Symbian in the Chinese market in 2012. The number of Android smartphones in China is expected to double to 180 million in 2012, the report said.

A few Chinese Internet companies have made attempts to expand overseas. In addition to UC Mobile, companies such as the search engine giant Baidu Inc and the mobile security supplier NetQin Mobile Inc have already invested heavily outside China. However, analysts said Chinese Internet companies are still in the initial stages of entering overseas markets and have yet to become global companies in the same league as Google Inc or Facebook Inc.

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