Feeds

Ambitious Alibaba wants to take on Android

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

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.