Yu Yongfu, who goes by family name first in the Chinese tradition, confidently walked on stage this afternoon after his introduction. Mr. Yu is CEO of UCWeb, the largest and most popular web browser in China. His first slide was simply titled “Asian Opportunity”. He spoke of opportunities available in the future saying that, “that’s why everyone is here right?”
He began with an overview of UCWeb, which now has over 300 million users and an impressive market saturation of over 50% of Chinese and 20% of Indians surfing the web.
Surprisingly, he then gave a very short history lesson, showing slides of the Earth’s geography when all landmasses were one in Pangaea and how it is at the present day. He used this idea to explain with pride that although the Earth has been moving to divide us, we have united with the Internet. He then spoke briefly about Microsoft and Intel and how they won and united the PC market in software and hardware respectively. Though this battle is over, says Mr Yu, mobile remains fragmented.
According to his assessment, mobile has 2 distinct centers: Asia and North America. However, this presentation being “Asian Opportunity,” he focused on the former and backed it up with some convincing statistics. Internet users in Asia are already outnumbering Internet users in North America and growth in mobile users is much more rapid than growth in desktop users in Asia. This is to say that mobile is a gigantic and ever growing market in Asia. He then went on to briefly describe to the audience the differences between Asian and American users.
The majority of the users in Asia use 3rd party app stores, whereas this is not the case in the U.S. where the majority use stores sponsored by their phone companies (Apple Store, Google Play, and others). One big difference that he noticed is that in China and Japan, most people commute on trains, subways, and buses whereas in the U.S. people drive. So this means that their commute is “hands free” and they have on average 2 more hours to be on the Internet every day in Asia. This can only be a good thing from the perspective of developers. Another thing he noticed was that needs are different. In the US, the top 4 uses for the phone are voice, email, Facebook, and SMS. In China top top 4 are: voice, SMS, browsing, and instant messaging.
What he wanted to stress with this is that browsers are much more important to users in China than in America. He then went into a breakdown of the things users do with UCWeb. The four major functions were: to read the news/blogs (~95% of users), find things with a search engine (~90%), participate in social media (~70%) and play games (~20%). He then went on to explain that UCWeb has evolved to not only be a browser but a “platform for entry to the Internet.” He then went on to say that Netscape died because they did not expand beyond the browser. He ended his talk with a slide showing his numerous strategic partners in China and announcing that they have just opened an office in the US.