Feeds

Ambitious Alibaba wants to take on Android

There's only one way to settle this...FIGHT!

Security for virtualized datacentres

Not content with dominating the massive Chinese e-commerce market, local hero Alibaba now wants to chase Android into the sea by making its cloud-based Aliyun mobile operating system China's preferred smartphone OS.

The company’s chief strategy officer, Zeng Ming, told the Wall Street Journal that the firm is set to more than double the number of handset vendors on board, from two to five, by the end of the year.

At present, the Linux-based Aliyun can be found on K-Touch phones from Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment, and handsets from home appliances firm Haier.

“We want to be as strong as Android in China," Zeng told the paper. "We have quite a few [new handset partners] lined up."

Things have gone pretty well so far, with the OS passing the one million unit sales mark less than a year after it was launched out of Alibaba’s AliCloud business in July 2011.

So far Alibaba has concentrated on the low-end of the smartphone market with models like the K-Touch W806 and W619, which retail for a budget 1499 yuan (£152) and 699 yuan (£70).

This makes sense given the huge potential growth in this part of the market as legacy feature phone users make the move to a smartphone.

Analyst Canalys' statistics from August show smartphone shipments leapt 199 per cent in China compared to the same period last year. Some 42 million smartphones were shipped into the channel in the People’s Republic – 27 per cent of the global figure and some way higher than the US with 16 per cent.

Aliyun could also prosper from the increasingly fraught international patent battles which are likely to be making Android handset makers nervous.

Aside from Microsoft’s long-term strategy of seeking royalties for every device made running the Google OS, there is the spectre of Apple’s monumental patent victory over Samsung – although Google has claimed its ‘core OS’ will not be affected.

Alibaba’s Zeng certainly turned up the fear-mongering in his interview with the WSJ.

"If I were a handset maker and if the only option is Android, I would be scared," he said. "Any company would like to have at least two suppliers."

Teck Zhung Wong, a senior market analyst at IDC, told The Reg that, given Android’s market share in China is over 70 per cent now, Alibaba’s vaulting ambitions may be a little difficult to achieve.

“For Aliyun OS to be ‘as strong as Android’, it will mean a collapse in Android shipments, which is extremely unlikely. Though Aliyun OS has several highly localised features that are perhaps more suited to the Chinese consumer, the OS remains a niche product and will struggle to get scale and attention,” he said.

“Let's not forget the other Chinese OSes that compete with Aliyun OS for the Chinese consumer,” he added.

Aside from Microsoft's Windows Phone, these other companies include search giant Baidu, handset maker Xiaomi, and even operators like China Unicom, all trying to drive extra revenue through China’s rapidly expanding mobile market, as described in an IDC report recently. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.