Alibaba buys mobile browser firm UCWeb, gains 500 million users

UCWeb has over 500 million users, and has partnered with Alibaba to launch a mobile search engine

UCWeb and Alibaba have partnered on the Shenma mobile search engine.

UCWeb and Alibaba have partnered on the Shenma mobile search engine.

China's Alibaba Group is buying UCWeb, one of the nation's top mobile browser companies, in a deal that will give the e-commerce giant a bigger reach with smartphone users.

It's unclear how much Alibaba is paying for the company, but it already owns a 66 percent stake in UCWeb. As part of the deal, UCWeb will become UCWeb Mobile Business Group, an Alibaba unit, and be led by its existing CEO Yu Yongfu.

In a Wednesday statement, Yu said the valuation "far exceeded" the US$1.9 billion Chinese search engine Baidu paid for two app stores last year, making the acquisition of UCWeb the largest in the country's Internet industry. Close to 3,000 workers from UCWeb will join the e-commerce company.

By making the deal, Alibaba is gaining UCWeb's massive base of worldwide users, which number over 500 million. Many of those come from China, but the browser company has been expanding in other major markets including India, Indonesia, Russia, and even the U.S.

UCWeb's core business was focused on developing mobile browsers for Android, iOS and other operating systems. But in April, it announced a joint venture with Alibaba on a new mobile search engine called Shenma. That search engine has gone on to claim over 20 percent in market share in China, UCWeb's CEO said in early May.

Lately, Alibaba has been making investments and buying up companies to cement its hold over China's rapidly growing Internet market. In April, it purchased a stake in one of China's leading video sites, Youku Tudou, and agreed to buy a leading mapping provider in the country, called AutoNavi.

Alibaba is best known for running two of China's largest online retail sites, Taobao and Tmall. But it's facing competition from rivals Tencent and Baidu, two local Internet giants that are also trying to seize control of the market with new mobile products. In March, Tencent bought a stake in a direct competitor to Alibaba called JD.com.

Under its deal with Alibaba, UCWeb will manage the e-commerce giant's businesses in mobile browser, search, location-based services, and gaming among others. Alibaba previously invested in UCWeb, starting in 2009.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags business issuesmobile applicationse-commerceAlibaba GroupmobileinternetMergers and acquisitions

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?