iPad is a successful product for many reasons, but one of the most significant must be that the design of iPad is so intuitive that an illiterate 6-year-old can use it without instruction. A good product taps into something basic in human nature, something shared across culture. Apple designers did not build a product specifically for Americans, Colombians, or Indians; they built a device that works equally well in the streets of San Francisco and Bogota. That’s why a store in Beijing could become the top selling Apple Store in the world.
The success of Apple is also why I believe companies such as UC could make it big in the U.S. market. While it is most dominant at the home market, UC is already making headways into other countries.
One reason I like UC browser’s push into the U.S. market is the fact that the company recognizes it could not compete on the cost advantage alone, anymore. Years ago, I met a company that wanted to sell animated Chinese programs into the U.S. and European markets. The founder was extremely confident his plan could work, since his programs are made by Chinese animators, who are paid much less than their foreign counterparts.
Many people think like him. When they think of China, they think low cost. However, while this may be a great advantage in sectors such as manufacturing, the low cost is not help in the so-called “cultural industry”.
Take the animation company for example: what they didn’t realize was that product cost is only one part of the equation. Culture gaps are difficult to bridge, that’s why jokes that work in English won’t necessary work when they are translated into Chinese. That’s why it is almost impossible for a group of Chinese talents to create works that will be appealing to American and European viewers. Therefore, even though the cost of the Chinese produced programs would be much less, they still wouldn’t sell.
UC, however, does not have the illusion that low cost would solve all of their problems. Like many popular products in the Mobile universe, it is offered for free. Therefore, UC browser must compete on product quality and product quality alone. Being Chinese will help in the cost department, but it would not be deterministic.
Similarly, being Chinese would hurt in the cultural department, but not too much. Unlike the animation programs mentioned above, UC has the benefit of being a tool. While content business is a tough nut to crack, as long as a tool offers good services, people will adopt it gladly.
This doesn’t mean UC does not have to understand the population it serves. Pandodaily does make a valid point that the UC browser needs to be localized for it to be a hit, since providing Americans with contents from Times of India instead of TechCrunch is a sure way to lose users fast.
This problem, however, is not a bridge too far. As long as UC lives and learns, they definitely have the ability to build a product that consumers in foreign markets will use and love.