NEW DELHI - The Huffington Post launched an Indian version of its news website Monday, seeking to tap the country's exploding number of Internet users, and announced its next big goal was a Chinese edition.
The AOL-owned website featuring, news, entertainment, health and blogs, has allied with The Times of India Group to launch HuffPost India, its 13th edition worldwide.
It hopes to gain new readers in the world's second most populous nation of 1.25 billion, where smartphones and other Internet-enabled devices are proliferating.
But it faces fierce competition in India's crowded online media scene, competing with a host of local newspaper sites and international offerings such as Buzzfeed and Quartz.
"This is a wonderful chance for us," said editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington, who founded the website in 2005, adding she wanted HuffPost India to "tell the stories that matter most" to the country.
The Greek-born editor said India held "special significance" as she studied in the country in her late teens.
The Indian edition led with a story headlined "Uber and Out" - about the US-based cab service being banned in New Delhi over the alleged rape of a female customer by a driver booked through the company.
The Huffington Post, which began launching international editions three years ago, has been using a format abroad in which it teams up with a local media firm.
It is planning launches in coming months of an Arabic-language edition and an Australian Huffington Post and said its next big project could be China.
"We'd like to put China on the roadmap, we hope we can do business there," said The Huffington Post chief executive Jimmy Maymann.
"China is really pushing the boundaries in (online) innovation. We know the (media) restrictions" but "We're really bullish on China," he said, Maymann said The Huffington Post expected to reach a deal with a Chinese partner by early 2016.
The Huffington Post relies on advertising revenues, which makes it well-suited to subscription-resistant Indian consumers who are reluctant to pay for content.
Internet penetration remains limited in India but analysts say the growth possibilities are huge. The Internet and Mobile Association of India forecasts India will have the second-largest Internet user base after China by end-2014, with 302 million people online.