Alibaba’s UC browser beating Google Chrome in Indian mobile market

The browser's ad-blocking feature is driving a significant percentage of global ad blocking and is a potentially meaningful threat to ad revenue.

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The Alibaba-owned UC browser is winning the war for mobile users in India and Indonesia. Relying on StatCounter data, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it’s beating Google’s Chrome in these large developing markets.

Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world, with more than 1 billion users. Globally, Chrome has a roughly 55 percent market share to Safari’s approximately 15 percent, as the second leading browser. The UC browser has just under 9 percent of the global market and is third after Safari. Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer follow in that order.

Mobile and Tablet Browser Market Share in India

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Source: StatCounter (2018)

If the desktop is factored back in, Chrome becomes the number one browser again in India. The country is extremely important to most US-based tech giants because of its massive population, much of which is still not online. Accordingly, India is seen as one of the primary sources for “the next billion users.”

The UC Browser is reportedly preferred by many in developing markets because it takes up less space, is faster and works more smoothly on lower-end smartphones with unstable connections. The browser launched in 2004 and operates as a content portal as well.

The premise of the Wall Street Journal article is that Google will potentially lose a significant revenue opportunity if someone else dominates the browser market. That’s not necessarily true; according to StatCounter, Google has a 98 percent share of the Indian mobile search market. In addition, Android has a roughly 82 percent share of the smartphone OS market there.

A much larger potential threat to ad revenue is the UC browser’s built-in ad blocker. Chrome also has one, which will go live in mid-February, that is aimed at blocking ads that don’t comply with ad experience standards. According to data from PageFair, “94 percent of global mobile adblock usage is in Asia-Pacific,” with much (or most) of that attributed to the UC browser.

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About the author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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