Hi MIR Cru – it’s James from mjelly.com back at Mobile Industry Review for another “Mobile 2.0 Service of the Week”. This week we’re going to take test drive of the UCweb mobile browser which is rapidly becoming a major underground hit in the world of mobile internet.
what is it?
UCweb is a bit of mobile software that you download to replace your native browser. similar to opera mini. However, it has a lot less visibility than opera mini as it has been developed by a Chinese company primarily for the home market and then translated into an english version. UCweb Technology is based in Guangzhou City in Guangdong and has 210 employees of which 140 are developers – pretty big firepower!
UCweb has some great features including
-a server-side proxy that does a lot of the hard work so that a website can load on your phone
– tabbed pages to allow loading of multiple screens at once
– a download manager for helping to access larger files
– copy and paste functionality
– bookmark management with support for folders and so on – way better than the rubbish bookmarking features of standard browsers
UCweb is available on Symbian, Windows Mobile, Brew, Linux, iphone and Java so works on just about any phone.
WapReview has some fantastic background info and detailed reviews here http://wapreview.com/blog/?tag=ucweb
Why is it interesting?
UCweb has apparently been downloaded 64 million times (!), and usage has grown by 400% every year for three years. That puts it up there with some of the biggest mobile apps out there including ebuddy and Mig33 for example. However, the company behind the service claim that they only offer the English version to “study user-habits” and are really focused on what they see as the major opportunity – the Chinese market.
China is the largest mobile market in the world and is also home to a massive proportion of handset manufacturing and network engineering and this capacity is now beginning to result in some great mobile software development. UCweb is one of the first of many innovations we can expect to see coming out of there.
The UCweb browser has loads of passionate fans outside of China. There is a lively community of developers who build english versions of the latest updates to the Chinese service before they are released by UCweb and build patches and so on to add additional functionality.
Finally, UCweb is part of a much bigger battle going on at the moment in the mobile browser space. Opera Mini, Skyfire and new players like Bolt as well as Firefox mobile are all fighting for market share. It may well be that UCweb will come from nowhere to grab a big place in the mobile internet and prove that the major web players and Silicon Valley aren’t necessarily going to dominate on the mobile platform.