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移动应用

商业 - 科技

UC掌门人:移动浏览器是王道

Kurt Wagner 2012年11月16日

俞永福是中国最大的手机浏览器公司UC优视首席执行官,他坚信浏览器将最终取代应用程序,是移动互联网的未来。目前,UC已经占据了亚洲4成的份额,每月访问量已经突破1,600亿次。而且,公司正在积极进军美国市场。

    近年来,移动互联网发展极为迅速,大有赶超传统互联网之势。尤其在新兴市场,这种趋势更为明显。由于价格原因,这些地方的居民极少购买昂贵的个人电脑,但大部分人都拥有智能手机。此外,对于大部分科技人士而言,移动上网就算不是唯一的,也应该是他们最青睐的上网方式。过去这个夏天,中国和印度的移动上网流量在历史上都首次超过了传统的桌面平台。

    一家中国公司正在引领这股潮流并希望将业务扩张至美国。“对于想真正拥有10亿级用户的公司而言,我认为两大关键(因素)必须重视:移动互联网和亚洲。”中国最大的手机浏览器公司UC优视(UCWeb)首席执行官俞永福如是说。UC浏览器和苹果(Apple)Safari和谷歌(Google)Chrome一样,都是手机浏览器。虽然大部分移动厂商往往把注意力放在了操作系统或应用程序上,但UC优视坚信手机浏览器才是引领全球数十亿用户的关键门户所在。

    UC优视现在已经表现出这种潜力。它的UC浏览器目前牢牢占据了亚洲市场四成的份额。诞生于2004年的UC浏览器目前每月页面访问量已超过1,600亿次。俞永福希望它的用户数能在未来五年突破10亿大关。这个目标并非遥不可及,因为亚洲地区移动互联网发展迅猛,而UC浏览器在此地区根基很牢固。仅中国就拥有10亿多手机用户,活跃移动互联网用户数也已突破4亿。印度也不甘落后,它的手机用户数也在迅速接近10亿。Mozilla社区火狐(Firefox)工程部总监乔纳森•南丁格尔说:“在发展中国家,绝大部分人与互联网的第一次亲密接触都是通过某款移动设备。”

    1997年,第一款智能手机浏览器诞生。此后,手机浏览器的速度和功能都有了巨大的飞跃。手机浏览器在很大程度上提供了一种开源平台,用户可以随心所欲地浏览各种网站。与之相对应的是应用程序,它们绝大部分都是封闭的,只允许用户和开发者之间的交流,人为封锁了他们与第三方厂商的联系。俞永福称:“不论是谷歌、Facebook,还是亚马逊(Amazon)的平台,我认为没有哪家公司愿意他们从中坐收30%的收入。”他是指苹果和谷歌等公司对于在其应用中发生的交易收入抽成;而在网页中进行的交易则无需支付此类费用,甚至包括通过移动设备进行的交易。

    浏览器的拥护者声称他们拥有许多应用程序所不具备的优势:网站开发者不需要任何产品发布许可就能访问浏览器。维护手机网站的成本也更低,因为开发者无需专门针对微软(Microsoft)Windows Phone或苹果iOS等数个不同平台。同时,对网站进行更新更加容易,堪称天衣无缝。

    Mobile Internet browsing is quickly overtaking traditional web surfing, particularly in emerging markets where few people own expensive PCs but many own smartphones. For many of the world's technology users, mobile Web is the preferred, if not only, Internet option. This past summer, mobile Internet traffic in both China and India surpassed desktop Internet traffic for the first time in history.

    One company in China is riding that wave -- and hoping to expand its business in the U.S. "For companies that aspire to really become billion-user companies I think there are two key [things] that they have to focus on: mobile Internet and Asia," argues Yu Yongfu, CEO of China's largest mobile browser, UCWeb. UCWeb is akin to Apple's (AAPL) Safari or Google's (GOOG) Chrome for mobile devices. Major mobile players often focus on operating systems or apps, but UCWeb believes the mobile browser is the most important gateway to billions of customers around the world.

    The company has demonstrated the potential reach of such software, capturing 40% of the market share in Asia. Founded in 2004, UCWeb's users now generate more than 160 billion page views per month. Yu hopes to reach the billion-customer mark in the next five years, not an unrealistic goal given his firm's footing in Asia where mobile browsing is booming. China alone has over one billion mobile subscribers with more than 400 million active mobile Internet users. India's subscriber base is also rapidly closing in on one billion. "Most people's first personal interaction with the Internet in developing markets is going to be a mobile device of some kind," says Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering at Mozilla.

    The speed and functionality of mobile browsers have greatly increased since they were first unveiled for smartphones in 1997. For the most part, mobile browsers offer open-source platforms that allow users to freely navigate between websites. Most apps are closed source, in contrast, allowing communication between users and app developers, but limiting the freedom to interact with third parties. "Whether we're talking about Google, Facebook (FB) or Amazon (AMZN)," says Yu, "I don't think any company is going to continue to be willing to have someone stand in the middle taking 30% of the cut." He is referring to the cut companies like Apple and Google take of purchases made within apps; transactions on the Web aren't subject to such fees -- even when made from a mobile device.

    Browsers boosters say they offer a number of advantages over apps: Developers of websites accessed through a browser do not need to wait for approval to release their products. Utilizing mobile browsing also lowers maintenance costs because developers do not have to design for multiple operating systems like Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Phone or Apple's iOS. Updates can be rolled out more seamlessly as well.

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