Google threat blamed as Acer cancels China smartphone launch

Alibaba Group claims Google threatened to take away Acer's Android license if it went ahead with the launch

PC maker Acer has allegedly canceled the launch of a new smartphone using a Chinese-developed mobile operating system because Google threatened to cancel the company's license to use the Android OS.

Acer was originally scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday to launch its Acer A800 smartphone for China. Making the handset different from other rival smartphones is that the device uses the Aliyun OS, which was developed by a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

Acer, however, abruptly canceled its Thursday event, with a company marketing director declining to elaborate on why. But soon after, Alibaba addressed the cancellation, stating it was because Google threatened to cancel Acer's license to use Android on its other handsets if the company went ahead with A800 smartphone launch, according to a company Internet posting.

In the posting, an Alibaba spokesman states that Google's action is "clearly unfair to consumers and we are concerned about the impact on customer access to competitive products."

Google declined to comment on the "accusations" brought by Alibaba, a company spokesman said in an email.

An Alibaba spokeswoman also declined to offer further comment.

Acer marketing director Muriel Kuan said staff is communicating with company headquarters on the matter, but Acer had no comment. Kuan would only say the event was cancelled for a "special reason," without elaborating.

Acer's A800 smartphone is to be sold through a retail shopping site under Alibaba Group. But sales for the handset have yet to start, according to the phone's product page.

Acer's use of the Aliyun OS would have given Alibaba a better-known vendor to back its mobile operating system. Previously, the Aliyun OS was only installed on phones from Chinese local handset vendors Tianyu and Haier.

The Aliyun OS can run both Android apps, and so-called "cloud apps", which are Web-based and stored on remote company servers that can also leverage services from Alibaba's own e-commerce business.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service

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