After remaining incognito for the past nine months, the team at Veera has launched its homegrown mobile web browser, Veera, which has kicked up quite a stir
Veera, which will compete with Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and others, claims to offer a clean, ad-free experience
The browser, which is in its beta phase right now, also blocks cross-site/third-party cookies, which enable Google and other advertisers to serve ads on other websites
In the entire universe of the World Wide Web, there are only a handful of players that dominate the browser market across the globe, and India is no exception.
According to market insights firm Similarweb, Google’s Android-native Chrome is the world’s most popular mobile-based web browser, with more than 58% market share. Chrome is followed by Apple’s Safari, Samsung Internet Browser and Opera, with 35.5%, 4% and 1.1% market shares, respectively.
Chrome’s dominance is more pronounced in the Android-dominated Indian market. As of August 2023, 89% of all mobile devices in the country used the browser, per Similarweb data.
However, after remaining incognito for the past nine months, the team at Veera has launched its homegrown mobile web browser, Veera, which has kicked up quite a stir. Veera’s browser is the latest attempt by an Indian company to introduce an indigenous internet browsing experience, a space where many failed in the face of Google’s dominance.
Veera’s launch also comes after Zoho joined the browser market, launching its privacy-centred browser ‘Ulaa’.
The startup comes with a team of seasoned entrepreneurs as founders, including ex-Alpha Wave VC Arjun Ghose, Brave Browser board member Rahul Pagdipati, Paddle8 founder Aditya Julka and Goldman Sachs founding leadership member Kanu Gupta.
So far, the startup has secured funding from the likes of Ayon Capital, COG Network, 6th Man Ventures, Folius Ventures and iSeed Ventures, alongside angels such as Aalap Mahadevia (Briarwood Capital), Kabir Narang (B-Capital), Nikhil Mohta (Carlyle, ICICI Ventures), Kevin Hu (Brevam Howard), Saneel Srini (Moralis Capital), Ashwin Ramachandran, Viram Shah (Vested) and Dr Devaiah Pagidipati (Freedom Health, Physician Partners, Anion Health).
The browser is still in its beta phase, and since early access is available to select users, team Inc42 decided to see what Veera Browser was capable of.
An Ad-Free Internet Experience
To be sure, Veera is built on top of Chromium, Google’s free and open-source software (FOSS) web browser project. Chromium is also the base code for Google Chrome and other popular browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Opera and Brave.
However, one of the most prominent shortcomings of Google Chrome and many others remains the ads that interrupt the overall browsing experience. Veera claims to offer a clean, ad-free experience. The claims held up well in our usage.
A two-minute browsing session through a news website remained completely ad-free, with Veera Browser’s app claiming that it blocked 57 ads and saved 2.2 MB of data.
The browser has ‘Veera Kavach’, which by default enables a set of security and cookie-related protocols to offer an ad-free experience to users. For starters, the browser auto-redirects AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) pages to non-AMP pages, tracking URLs and upgrading connections to HTTPS to avoid any tracking of user activity on the internet.
The browser also blocks cross-site/third-party cookies, which enable Google and other advertisers to serve ads on other websites. While this may break some sites, most websites worked fine in our experience.
Providing an extra layer of privacy to its users, Veera clears all browsing data, once they exit the application.
Other features Veera offers include a homepage, which shows news links in the form of cards and in-browser games. While in our first usage, the news links were generic and consisted of current affairs, Veera slowly customises the homepage by analysing what the user is browsing.
In short, Veera is entering a market dominated by Chrome. While the ad-free experience held up in our experience, it remains to be seen how important such a USP will be for Indian users.